- Wed Aug 01, 2012 10:20 am
Thanks for your question!
You are right that the smoker compares high-fat foods to smoking, but this comparison serves to illustrate why the politician's conclusion should be rejected. That's the essence of a counterexample: an example that serves to refute a claim by describing a situation in which the premises might hold true, but the conclusion does not. Yes, smoking causes health problems, but so do high-fat foods. We don't ask consumers of high-fat foods to bear the burden of financing the campaign, so we shouldn't ask smokers to do the same.
In general, counterexamples demonstrate an exception to the general rule claimed in the original argument. That's different from an argument by analogy, which is based merely on a similarity between two situations, and the conclusion drawn is a result of that comparison. In the scenario you gave, a counterargument by analogy would be: high-fat foods cause as many serious problems as does smoking, so if you force smokers to pay for the campaign, you should force consumers of such foods to do the same.
Here's a simpler version of the argument:
Premise: Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer.
Premise: Lung cancer poses a risk to your life.
Conclusion: You should stop smoking.
An example would be: In 2011, there were 200,000 new cases of lung cancer in the US alone, and most of those diagnosed were smokers. This illustrates the risk of smoking and therefore serves as an example.
An analogy would be: Just like you don't drive without wearing a seat belt, you shouldn't voluntarily incur the risk of smoking. This is not an example, because we don't seek to illustrate the dangers of smoking. It's just an analogous situation.
Let me know if this clears things up.
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