AS Critical Thinking - definitions of argument flaws

Argument flaws including a definition and example, highlighting the flaw in the argument.

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Flaw Definition Example What's Wrong
Sweeping A generalisation that Dawn is a girl, so she will be Just because many girls may be
Generalisation moves from some to more interested in shoes interested in shoes than politics
than politics. doesn't mean all of them are, an
all, creating a Dawn may be a girl who is more
stereotype. It may interested in politics than shoes
sometimes move can't accept the conclusion tha
back to one individual must be more interested in shoe
again.
Straw person This flaw The college authorities won't The college's reasons for not allo
misrepresents or let us have a party in college party in the summer holidays ar
during the holidays, with no misrepresented to make it easie
distorts an opposing staff in attendance. They're dismiss them. Not wanting to tak
view in order to killjoys. They just don't want safety risk of an unattended par
dismiss it. us to have fun. We should go quite a strong reason not to allo
on strike. party, and is very different from
killjoy.
Attacking the A form of reasoning College management say we College management is being a
arguer (Ad that dismisses an should work really hard and instead of their arguments being
perform well in the exam, addressed.
Hominem) opposing view by but they're a load of idiots so
attacking the arguer we can't trust what they
rather than their say.
reasoning.
Slippery slope Reasons from one The Government proposes to Ceasing to sell alcohol to the un
possibility through a ban drinking for the is unlikely to have significant neg
under-25s. This would be the consequences and the chain of
series of events, first step to disaster. Young that is predicted is illogical and
which are not people would riot and do extreme. We cannot therefore a
properly, logically considerable damage to the conclusion that we would all
linked, to an extreme property, which would have a worse off.
consequence. negative effect on the
economy. This could lead to
strikes and further economic
downturn, which would
mean that we were all less
well off.
Confusing the An argument that Refi is bound to get the job. Working hard and having the rig
necessary and assumes that a She has all the qualifications qualifications for the job may we
they want, and she's worked necessary conditions for getting
the sufficient necessary condition hard. This doesn't mean that they will
conditions. is also sufficient or a sufficient, as there may be some
sufficient condition is even more hard working, or with
also necessary. appropriate personality, or who
better with the team. So we can
sure that Refi will get the job.
Hasty Draws a general Researchers have shown It is not reasonable to move from
Generalisation. conclusion from that ethyl benzoate, a chemical, which has some nega
common ingredient in effects, to all chemicals being to
insufficient evidence. shampoo, may cause itchy dangerous to use in cosmetics.
scalps and rashes. We
should stop using chemicals

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Oversimplifying Assumes a causal As more people have had Just because the Internet has
causal connection without access to the Internet, developed at the same time as e
there has been a huge rise cheating has become prevalent
relationships. good reason, in cheating in A Levels. If we not mean that the Internet is the
oversimplifies causal get rid of the Internet, cause of cheating. It may well be
relationship or cheating will end.…read more

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