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Does new information help or hurt conclusions?

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.

Solution Preview

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.

If Celestina believed that all men of high status were arrogant and selfish, the conclusion would not follow.

If it were the case that ALL women prefer men of high status, or if we knew that Celestina always conforms to the attitudes of the majority of women, then the conclusion would follow.

2. Generally, Toyotas are very reliable cars.
Tony drives a Toyota.
Therefore, Tony probably drives a reliable car.

If we Tony’s car had a history of problems, the conclusion would not follow.

If it were the case that all Toyotas are reliable, or if we knew that Tony belonged to a Toyota owner’s ...

Solution Summary

Provides new (possible) information that would positively/negatively affect the strength of the conclusions of several arguments. Explains why/how the new information changes the inferential basis of each argument.

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