Flaws of an argument

These cards are to help you remember the flaws of an argument for Critical Thinking AS Unit 2 exam.

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Appeal to Authority

A claim that the conclusion is correct because it is backed by an expert or someone in authority.

Arguments should be evaluated on their merits NOT on the authority of the people who use them.

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Appeal to Popularity

A form of argument that justifies a conclusion by its populairty.

Population is NOT enough to make an action right.

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Appeal to Tradition

A form of argument that justifies a conclusion on the basis that it is traditional.

HOWEVER, just because something is done for a long time does not make it right. Such arguments often try to persuade us to resist change.

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Appeal to History

Suggests that because something has always happened it will continue to happen.

HOWEVER, the past is not a reliable guide to the future.

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Appeal to Emotion

Refers to things that make us feel very emotional in attempt to persuade the audience to support the conclusion.

The audience will agree with the argument because they are made to feel strongly about it instead of presenting valid reasons.

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Finding an appeal to popularity, tradition, history or authority in an argument doens NOT mean the conclusion is wrong.

It simply means the conclusion cannot be supported in this way.

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Two wrongs don't make a right

An attempt to justify one bad action on the basis that another, different, bad action is accepted.

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Tu Quoque

Latin phrase meaning 'You Too'

Suggests that we should do something because someone else is doing it.

Our conclusions should be based on good valid reasons, not on what other people are doing.

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Drawing a general conclusion from specific evidence.

A 'hasty generalisation' means the reasoning moves from one to all.

A 'sweeping generalisation' means from many to all.

Generalisations tend to lie behind stereotypes and prejudice of certain groups.

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Restricting the Options

Also known as a false dilemma.

It presents a false or limited version of the choices avaliable to encourage a particular course of action.

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Flaw of Causation

Also known as a 'Post Hoc' argument.

Reasoning can be flawed if it assumes a casual connection between two things without good reason to do so.

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Slippery Slope

Reasoning from one minor even through a series of unlinked events to an extreme consequence.

Such reasoning is usualy negatively phrased, but can occur in a positive manner.

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Circular Argument

An argument that starts and ends with the same point.

Usually one of the reasons is the same as the conclusion.

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Confusing necessary and sufficent conditions

Something that is necessary is not always enough (sufficient).

Something that is enough (sufficient) is not always necessary.

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Attacking the Arguer

Also known as 'Ad Hominem'.

Attacking the person putting forward an argument rather than attacking the argument itself.

An argument should be judged on its own merits.

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Straw Person

Building up a distorted version of an opposing argument in order to dismiss it.

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Bringing two or more different concepts together and treating them as the same thing.

It fails to support the argument because of the confusion in the use of terms.

Using 'obese' and 'unfit' to mean the same thing.

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Non Sequitur

Latin for 'does not follow'.

The conclusion does not follow the reason or the evidence.

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Weak Analogy

Argument rest on a comaprrison between two cases. A known case is examined and then the finding are extended to an unknown case.

The argument is only as string as the comparrison made, so if two cases are not sufficiently similar the arguement is weakened.

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Dipika Champaneria

Thank you, its really good :)


This is great, thank you so much!!! We don't get given textbooks or anything like that so this is really going to help me tomorrow!!!

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