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Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning-CE. The correct answer choice is (D)

Marianna argues that additional measures against drunk driving are needed. This is so because drunk driving greatly increases the chance that the drunk driver will cause an accident involving death or serious injury. David responds that Marianna exaggerates the dangers of drunk driving. He supports his point by citing evidence that in an accident, the drunk driver is less likely to be hurt while drunk than while sober. David misses two points. First, he points out evidence that suggests the drunk driver would be better off drunk, while ignoring what happens to the people that the drunk driver hits. Second, he talks about how the severity of injury to a drunk driver is reduced, while Marianna was addressing the probability of an accident in the first place. In either case, David does not address Marianna's concerns.

Answer choice (A): David does no such thing. His conclusion regarding Marianna's argument is consistent with the evidence he provides. Unfortunately, his conclusion misses the point of Marianna's argument.

Answer choice (B): David is not making a circular argument. He supports his conclusion by citing evidence.

Answer choice (C): Actually, David offers his own evidence for his position.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. David responds to points different from those made by Marianna, as explained above.

Answer choice (E) David does not attack Marianna herself.
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I am having difficulty understanding why answer D is more correct than answer C. Could someone please explain this for me?

Thank you!
 Jonathan Evans
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Hi, studier,

As the explanation notes above, David does actually offer evidence for his claim that Marianna exaggerates the dangers of driving while drunk. David states that drunk drivers are less likely to be injured in an accident than are sober drivers. Therefore, Answer Choice C is incorrect.

Answer Choice D points out one flaw in David's reasoning. The evidence David offers does nothing to contradict Marianna's claim that additional measures are needed because drunk drivers are more likely to cause accidents than are sober drivers. Thus the issue is not whether these drunk drivers will be injured in accidents but whether they will cause the accidents in the first place. David's evidence is irrelevant. I hope this helps.
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It is clear to me why D is right, however, in the case of answer choice C, I have some confusion.

David states, "Actually, a driver who is in an automobile accident is slightly less likely to be seriously injured if drunk than if sober."

C - He contradicts Marianna's conclusion without giving evidence for his point of view

He certainly contradicts Marianna's conclusion, but the only evidence provided is what he said. Does his claim in the passage constitute evidence? Is evidence to be considered anything that the author offers? There is no source or citation of this information but just the fact he said it. His claim could just be complete conjecture or outright made up, but I'm supposed to take David's statement as evidence? I'm just confused about when something amounts to evidence and when something does not in these types of questions as it seems to be inconsistently applied.
 Eric Ockert
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Hi there!

Let's break answer choice (C) down a little bit.

First of all, it states that David "contradicts Marianna's conclusion..."
Marianna's conclusion is that "additional measures (to combat drunk driving) are nevertheless needed." David never explicitly contradicts this conclusion. He claims that Marianna exaggerates the dangers of drunk driving, but never outright states that additional measures are not needed.

Secondly, the answer states "...without giving evidence for his point of view."
The LSAT tends to use a very permissive definition of what constitutes evidence. David does provide evidence here by citing the fact that, "a driver who is in an automobile accident is slightly less likely to be seriously injured if drunk than if sober." The source of that information does not affect whether or not it is "evidence." David is using it as evidence regardless of its source, and regardless of whether it is true or not. Here, we just have to identify whether David is using the information to support his claim. He is. That would make it evidence.

So really, both parts of answer choice (C) are inaccurate descriptions of David's argument.

Hope that helps!
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I got the answer to this question correct, but I'm having trouble classifying what type of flaw question this is. Would it be going too far to say this is a straw man example or would this just be a general lack of relevant evidence for the conclusion?
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 Dave Killoran
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Leela wrote:I got the answer to this question correct, but I'm having trouble classifying what type of flaw question this is. Would it be going too far to say this is a straw man example or would this just be a general lack of relevant evidence for the conclusion?
He Leela,

Thanks for the question! I wouldn't say it's a straw man because he doesn't put words in her mouth, and instead simply criticizes her directly by saying she's exaggerating. The flaw thereafter is he missed her point and then makes response that addresses the wrong issue (as opposed to what would happen in a straw man, where you'd attack a rebuilt/restated viewpoint).

The straw man idea builds up a straw argument and then knocks that argument down. That building up of a straw argument didn't happen here, so I wouldn't call this a straw man argument :-D

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I debated between D and E. From reading the explanation I understand why D is correct. However, I picked E because of David's line "I think you exaggerate the dangers of driving while drunk." For the purposes of flaw arguments, what is the distinction between criticizing and attacking?

Thank you!

For my reference (L7, Flaw 16-20 q.20)
 Adam Tyson
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When David says "I think you exaggerate", lolaSur, that is not criticizing Marianna herself, but is actually criticizing her argument. A criticism of your opponent, which we call a Source Argument, is where you actually ignore the content of what the opponent said and focus on something about them personally. "Marianna herself got a DUI last year" would be such an attack, or "Marianna is cruel to children and dogs so nobody should listen to a word she says." Even something as simple as saying "your credentials don't qualify you to have an opinion on this subject, so you're wrong" is a Source Argument, because it still focuses only on the opposing party and not at all on the strength of the argument they advanced. Unqualified people can still make a good argument!

In this case, "I think you exaggerate the dangers of driving while drunk" is attacking Marianna's evidence, suggesting that she is mistaken in her conclusion that additional measures need to be taken. That's not personal! That's why answer E does not correctly describe David's flaw here.

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