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Challenging Soft Deductions

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For each of the following arguments, try to think of some critical information that could weaken or discount the conclusion. How could the argument be expressed to eliminate the weakness? 1. Generally, women prefer men of high status. Celestina is a woman. Therefore, Celestina probably prefers men of high status. 2. Generally, Toyotas are very reliable cars. Tony drives a Toyota. Therefore, Tony probably drives a reliable car. 3. Almost all people want to live. Carlos is a person. Therefore, Carlos probably wants to live 4. Almost all Americans speak English well. Chavela is an American. Therefore, Chavela probably speaks English well. 5. Most Americans believe in God. Siddhartha is an American. Therefore, Siddhartha probably believes in God. 6. Almost every person will eat a chocolate chip cookie if offered one at lunchtime. Penelope is a person. Therefore, Penelope will probably eat a chocolate chip cookie if offered one at lunch time.

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Challenging Soft Deductions is demonstrated.

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Should you want to STRENGTHEN the inference, rewrite the premises so that the statements refer to all members of a class. That will make the categorical inferences valid. For example, instead of asserting that "Generally, women prefer men of high status," you'd want to make the claim that ALL women prefer men of high status. That way, if Celestina is a woman, she MUST fall into the category of prefering men of ...

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