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Complete Question Explanation

Flaw in the Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (E)

The argument concludes that holding criminals responsible for their crimes is equivalent to failing to recognize that for all people actions are the product of an environment that forged the agent's character. The argument asserts that the law-abiding majority forges the environment, so it is the law-abiding people who are responsible for crime.

The reasoning in the argument is absurd, since the argument is self-contradictory. If people are the product of their environment, then the law-abiding majority is every bit as much such a product as is the criminal element. At that point, if the criminal element is not responsible by reason of environment, why should the law-abiding element be? The argument is based on contradictory assumptions.

Since you are asked to describe the flaw, you should focus on the argument's absurd, contradictory nature.

Answer choice (A): The argument does not exploit any ambiguity in the term "environment," so this choice is wrong. "Environment" means "surroundings" and the term was very clearly used to mean that.

Answer choice (B): The argument very generally does distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable actions in that it acknowledges the existence of criminal and law-abiding persons, so this choice is wrong.

Answer choice (C): Since the argument did not concern the methods by which one becomes a criminal, but instead where the blame lies for those methods, this choice is not related to the main line of reasoning, and is incorrect. Flaw responses not related to the main line of reasoning are in general incorrect, even if you think the flaw may have existed. Furthermore, this choice is actually false, as the stimulus does no such thing.

Answer choice (D): Since the stimulus concerns only an abstracted discussion of "criminals" and "law-abiding majority" without any clear specifics or comparisons to a general population, you should not assume that an overgeneralization has occurred. This choice is incorrect.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. Refusing to blame criminals for their actions on the basis that all actions stem from environment, and then asserting blame onto the law-abiding, even though the discussion of criminals would more consistently commit the stimulus to the proposition that no-one can be blamed, is an internal contradiction.
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I am sort of confused about this question. I chose the wrong answer (B) but by checking the Answer Key I realized that the answer choice selected was representative of an Internal Contradiction. Could you elaborate on the for me. I thoroughly reviewed all the flaws and know them pretty well but sometimes I have difficulty finding the answer choice describing the flaw. Thank You
 Ron Gore
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Hi JK,

The great news about the issue you're currently having is that there is a great way to resolve. Become a collector of the answer choices, all 5, in each Flaw in the Reasoning question you come across. Make sure you memorize what each means. Over time, you will become better at recognizing the descriptions of the various flaws.

In this particular case, answer choice (B) does not deal with contradiction at all. Instead, it claims the answer choice fails to distinguish one type of action from another. Answer choice (E), the correct answer choice, explicitly refers to a contradiction within the argument.

Memorizing the different ways in which the test refers to these argumentative flaws is critical to increasing both your speed and your accuracy on these Flaw questions.

Let me know if I can be of further help.

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This question is strange to me because:

But remember, law-abiding citizens' actions are also a product of their environment, and so by the same token they too should not be held responsible...
How is it that law abiding citizens actions are a product—they are the ones CREATING the environment?
 James Finch
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Hi Lane,

The issue with this stimulus is that it first posits that all actions are caused by their environment. Cause is environment, effect is action, at least when dealing with criminality. However, when talking about law-abiding citizens, it flips this script and claims that the actions of the law-abiding people are causing the environment to exist where criminals will commit criminal actions. Thus we have an internal contradiction, which is what answer choice (E) describes.

Hope this helps!
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The argument tries to make the case that criminals have no agency and therefore have no responsibility. The contradiction is that the criminals also make up the environment, it is not only made up of the "majority".
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what does internal contradiction mean? I don't see anything implicit that is being contradicted. I thought the contradiction was explicit because it said criminal actions are a product of environment
 Robert Carroll
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The second paragraph of the explanation at the beginning of the thread thoroughly explains why there is a self-contradiction in this stimulus. Which answer choice did you pick instead and what was your reasoning for that answer that you picked instead of answer choice (E)?

Robert Carroll
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I chose Answer C. I read the explanation up-top about why C is wrong, but it's still not clicking for me. Can someone elaborate further? I understand why E is a better choice than C, but I want to understand why C is wrong. Thank you!
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 Chandler H
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izzy_tingles wrote: Fri May 24, 2024 1:48 am I chose Answer C. I read the explanation up-top about why C is wrong, but it's still not clicking for me. Can someone elaborate further? I understand why E is a better choice than C, but I want to understand why C is wrong. Thank you!

Sure. Answer choice (C) is wrong for a few reasons. First of all, let's look at how the stimulus does distinguish "criminals" from "crimes": it argues that criminals commit criminal actions because of their environments, and are therefore not responsible for crimes. So that's our first issue with (C)—the stimulus doesn't deny that someone becomes a criminal because they committed a crime, right? It refers to people who commit crimes as "criminals," which contradicts what (C) says.

The second reason is, like the admin post says, that answer choice (C) simply doesn't factor into the argument enough to make the argument "most vulnerable to criticism."

Does this make sense?

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