Each of the following three pairs of passages consists of an argument and a response to that argument. For each pair, you should:
(1) state the conclusion of the initial argument (i.e. the first passage in the pair)
(2) say which common fallacy that argument exemplifies or involves
(3) explain that kind of fallacy in general terms
(4) explain clearly why this particular argument is an example of that kind of fallacy
(5) repeat tasks (2)-(4) for the response (i.e. the second passage in the pair)
As a reminder, the common fallacies we examined were:
appeal to pityslippery slope fallacy
appeal to forcefalse dichotomy
red herring fallacybegging the question
strawman fallacyappeal to ignorance
equivocation ad hominem argument
Suarez: The violent crime rate has dropped since California implemented the Three Strikes law, but it has not dropped because of the law. The law could have made a difference only by successfully deterring violent crime. But criminals simply haven’t been scared straight by the threat of increased punishment. Since the law has had no impact whatsoever on the problem it was meant to address, it should be revoked.
Hopkins: People like Suarez want to get rid of the Three Strikes law. That law is just a specific example of mandatory sentencing, so next theyll be suggesting we get rid of all mandatory sentencing policies. Before you know it, well have perpetrators of armed robbery doing no more than community service and murderers back on the streets after a couple token years in prison.
Zhou: It has been said that a governments decisions about tax policy should factor in all interested parties. I completely agree. But isnt it clear that only a handful of us are interested enough in the issue to pay close attention to it in the news and form well-educated opinions? It follows that the focus ought to be almost exclusively on us when it comes time to reach a final decision.
Rogers: I strongly disagree with Zhous argument regarding tax policy. Zhou is an extremely wealthy person, so she obviously has a great deal to gain from a tax policy that pays attention only to an elite few. After all, Im sure shes taken plenty of advantage of the loopholes in the current system.
Crittenden: I don’t think the American public school system is in as poor shape as some people seem to think. Look, either the schools are doing an adequate job, or young people arent being prepared for active roles in the arts, sciences, and business. But American artists in music, film & TV, etc. are among the most widely known and appreciated throughout the world. And despite the recent recession – which had effects worldwide, remember – our gross domestic product is still among the highest in the world, and nobody can deny that were a hotbed of scientific and technological innovation.
Mirza: Is Crittenden serious? Does he really think that California schools are preparing kids as well as they can? Is he not aware that, as a nation, we are lagging behind several countries in Europe and Asia when it comes to student performance? Its just obvious that our schools still have considerable room for improvement.
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