Sample Exam 2

 

Each question is worth 5 points. The arguments below (1-20) may contain the following fallacies:

 


Ad Hominem / Genetic Fallacy

Appeal to Common Belief

Appeal to Common Practice

Appeal to Ignorance

Arguing from Questionable Premises

Bandwagon

Begging the Question

Biased Generalization

Compatibility with All States of Affairs

Composition

Continuum Fallacy

Correlation Fallacy

Division

Equivocation

False Dilemma

Gamblerís Fallacy

Impromptu Definition

Irrelevant Emotional Appeal

Loaded Question

Objectionable Vagueness

Poisoning the Well

Post Hoc

Questionable Analogy

Questionable Cause

Questionable Statistics

Quibbling

Sample Too Small

Sample Unrepresentative

Slippery Slope

Smokescreen/Red Herring

Straw Man

Suppressed (Overlooked) Evidence

Two Wrongs Make a Right

Unfair Shifting of the Burden of Proof

 

 

FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS! Name the specific fallacy, if any, committed in each passage. Briefly explain your choice. If no fallacy is committed, explain why the argument is acceptable. If thereís a fallacy, say why itís the fallacy you named, i.e., how that fallacy applies to this passage. Donít just write the definition of the fallacy; donít just restate the passage.

Some arguments may contain instances of more than one fallacy. Pick the one you think most applicable to the whole argument. Answers are below.

 

1.      The keg on the left is filled with light beer. Therefore, it must weigh several pounds less than the keg on the right, which is filled with regular beer.

 

2.      During the short six months that the Reverend Evans has been pastor of our church, four members of the congregation have died. To prevent more deaths, Iím afraid we must get rid of Reverend Evans.

 

3.      Senator Kennedy has argued persuasively for federal insurance to protect the elderly against the burden of catastrophic illness or injury. But unfortunately nothing can stop the aging process. We have no fountain of youth. People who think they can remain youthful forever are simply deluding themselves.

 

4.      If I take liberal arts courses, Iíll face years of unemployment; and if I take business courses, Iíll face years of boredom. But I must take either liberal arts or business courses. So it looks like Iím facing either years of unemployment or years of boredom.

 

5.      Jack Sherman has argued that modern technology does not hold the key to human happiness. Apparently Sherman would have us throw out our computers, TVs, and appliances, and return to the Stone Age. I bet he also says we should turn in our clothing for animal skins and live in caves. What utter foolishness!

 

6.      What is wrong with gun control? Little imagination is needed to see where gun control will lead. First the idiotic government takes away our guns; then we get invaded by a foreign power, and weíre helpless to defend ourselves. Our wives and daughters are quickly raped and impregnatedby enemy soldiers, and our children taken from us to be brainwashed by the enemy. Our businesses will be looted and our hospitals shut down. Society will be in chaos, and our beloved country will be history.

 

7.      Deborah Coughlin is a lawyer, and she committed fraud against the company she works for. Dennis Decker is also a lawyer, and for over a year he drummed up needless paper work just so he could send his client a bill for it. The conclusion is obvious that lawyers are nothing but a bunch of crooks.

 

8.      Daddy, surely I deserve to have my allowance raised to $50 a week. If I donít get at least that much Iíll never be able to afford that new CD player, and if I donít buy it, Iíll miss all the new hits and all my friends will think Iím not cool.

 

9.      Strenuous exercise is good for people. Therefore, it would be a good idea for old Mrs. Bevans, who just had a heart attack, to go running today.

 

10.  There are more churches in New York City than in any other city in the country; and more crimes are committed in New York City than anywhere else. So, if we are to eliminate crime, we must abolish the churches.

 

11.  Youíre the kind of person who was biologically conceived by two, opposite-sex parents. However, no one, including your parents, ever asked you if you wanted to be born. For a period of time, you were totally dependent on others for providing food, shelter, and safety. But you are not as young as you were. Youíve had numerous experiences Therefore, things are different for you now than they used to be.

 

12.  To estimate public support for a new city-funded convention center, researchers surveyed 100 homeowners in one of the cityís fashionable neighborhoods. They found that 89 percent of those sampled were enthusiastic about the project. Therefore, we may conclude that 89 percent of the cityís residents favor the convention center.

 

13.  Extraterrestrials must exist. When people who have been abducted by aliens make sketches of the aliens, the similarities in the abducteesí drawings are amazing: all the sketches show large heads, big eyes, short skinny bodies, long fingers. That resemblance couldnít have happened if extraterrestrials didnít exist.

14.  Up until now, no one has proved that UFOs donít exist, so I think we should give the benefit of the doubt to those people who claim to have seen them. In other words, I think we should believe in UFOs and extraterrestrials until the sightings are proven false.

 

15.  Hallmark Cards Ö When you care enough to send the very best.

 

16.  More Americans drink Budweiser than any other beer. Clearly, then, if you drink beer, you should drink Bud.

 

17.  If a car breaks down on a freeway, a passing mechanic is not obligated to render emergency road service. For similar reasons, if a person suffers a heart attack on the street, a passing physician should not be obligated to render emergency medical assistance.

 

18.  Ellen has argued that logic is not the most important thing in life. Apparently Ellen advocates irrationality. It has taken two million years for the human race to achieve the position it has, and now Ellen wants to throw the whole thing into the garbage.

 

19.  Michel Foucault, the famous French philosopher, smoked pot, was gay, sexually promiscuous, and died of AIDS.Obviously, then, Foucaultís philosophy is not worth the paper itís written on.

 

20.  George wouldnít keep his hands off me. Tom said that if I loved him, I would prove it by having sex with him. This proves men are all alike. All they want is sex.

 

 

EXTRA CREDIT (up to 10):

The following passage contains at least five fallacies. Identify them and explain your answers.

 

Gauguinís painting The Spirit of the Dead Watching is pornographic. How do I know? First, itís a picture of a naked woman lying on a bed. And either you are a pervert yourself or youíll agree that pictures of that type are pornographic. Youíre not a pervert, are you? Second, there was a criminal case in which a man visited an art museum, looked at The Spirit of the Dead Watching, and then went out and committed rape. Seriously, it really happened! My cousin told me about it. So the painting caused this man to commit rape! I know itís possible because it can happen. And even a birdbrain can see that any painting that causes rape is pornographic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWERS

 

1.      The keg on the left is filled with light beer. Therefore, it must weigh several pounds less than the keg on the right, which is filled with regular beer.

 

Equivocation on "light"

 

2.      During the short six months that the Reverend Evans has been pastor of our church, four members of the congregation have died. To prevent more deaths, Iím afraid we must get rid of Reverend Evans.

 

False cause (post hoc)

 

3.      Senator Kennedy has argued persuasively for federal insurance to protect the elderly against the burden of catastrophic illness or injury. But unfortunately nothing can stop the aging process. We have no fountain of youth. People who think they can remain youthful forever are simply deluding themselves.

 

Red Herring/Smokescreen

 

4.      If I take liberal arts courses, Iíll face years of unemployment; and if I take business courses, Iíll face years of boredom. But I must take either liberal arts or business courses. So it looks like Iím facing either years of unemployment or years of boredom.

 

False dilemma

 

5.      Jack Sherman has argued that modern technology does not hold the key to human happiness. Apparently Sherman would have us throw out our computers, TVs, and appliances, and return to the Stone Age. I bet he also says we should turn in our clothing for animal skins and live in caves. What utter foolishness!

 

Straw man

 

6.      What is wrong with gun control? Little imagination is needed to see where gun control will lead. First the idiotic government takes away our guns; then we get invaded by a foreign power, and weíre helpless to defend ourselves. Our wives and daughters are quickly raped and impregnatedby enemy soldiers, and our children taken from us to be brainwashed by the enemy. Our businesses will be looted and our hospitals shut down. Society will be in chaos, and our beloved country will be history.

 

Slippery slope -- parade of horrors

 

7.      Deborah Coughlin is a lawyer, and she committed fraud against the company she works for. Dennis Decker is also a lawyer, and for over a year he drummed up needless paper work just so he could send his client a bill for it. The conclusion is obvious that lawyers are nothing but a bunch of crooks.

 

Hasty generalization -- sample too small

 

8.      Daddy, surely I deserve to have my allowance raised to $50 a week. If I donít get at least that much Iíll never be able to afford that new CD player, and if I donít buy it, Iíll miss all the new hits and all my friends will think Iím not cool.

 

Appeal to pity

 

9.      Strenuous exercise is good for people. Therefore, it would be a good idea for old Mrs. Bevans, who just had a heart attack, to go running today.

 

Accident

 

10.  There are more churches in New York City than in any other city in the country; and more crimes are committed in New York City than anywhere else. So, if we are to eliminate crime, we must abolish the churches.

 

False Cause -- correlation fallacy

 

11.  Youíre the kind of person who was biologically conceived by two, opposite-sex parents. However, no one, including your parents, ever asked you if you wanted to be born. For a period of time, you were totally dependent on others for providing food, shelter, and safety. But you are not as young as you were. Youíve had numerous experiences Therefore, things are different for you now than they used to be.

 

Compatibility with all states of affairs -- objectionable vagueness

 

12.  To estimate public support for a new city-funded convention center, researchers surveyed 100 homeowners in one of the cityís fashionable neighborhoods. They found that 89 percent of those sampled were enthusiastic about the project. Therefore, we may conclude that 89 percent of the cityís residents favor the convention center.

 

Hasty generalization -- sample unrepresentative

 

13.  Extraterrestrials must exist. When people who have been abducted by aliens make sketches of the aliens, the similarities in the abducteesí drawings are amazing: all the sketches show large heads, big eyes, short skinny bodies, long fingers. That resemblance couldnít have happened if extraterrestrials didnít exist.

 

Begging the question -- uses testimony of "people who have been abducted by aliens"; such people could not exist if extraterrestrials didn't exist.

14.  Up until now, no one has proved that UFOs donít exist, so I think we should give the benefit of the doubt to those people who claim to have seen them. In other words, I think we should believe in UFOs and extraterrestrials until the sightings are proven false.

 

Appeal to ignorance

 

15.  Hallmark Cards Ö When you care enough to send the very best.

 

Irrelevant emotional appeal -- poisoning the well

 

16.  More Americans drink Budweiser than any other beer. Clearly, then, if you drink beer, you should drink Bud.

 

Ad populum -- bandwagon appeal

 

17.  If a car breaks down on a freeway, a passing mechanic is not obligated to render emergency road service. For similar reasons, if a person suffers a heart attack on the street, a passing physician should not be obligated to render emergency medical assistance.

 

Dubious analogy

 

18.  Ellen has argued that logic is not the most important thing in life. Apparently Ellen advocates irrationality. It has taken two million years for the human race to achieve the position it has, and now Ellen wants to throw the whole thing into the garbage.

 

Straw man

 

19.  Michel Foucault, the famous French philosopher, smoked pot, was gay, sexually promiscuous, and died of AIDS.Obviously, then, Foucaultís philosophy is not worth the paper itís written on.

 

Ad hominem

 

20.  George wouldnít keep his hands off me. Tom said that if I loved him, I would prove it by having sex with him. This proves men are all alike. All they want is sex.

 

Hasty generalization -- sample too small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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