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June 2007, Logical Reasoning 2, Question 18


Question 18, when a question ask you for the criticism that an argument is vulnerable to, that makes it a flaw question. On a flaw question, you're given an argument and you're asked to find what is wrong with it. So of course, the first thing you need to do is to understand the argument, which means breaking it down into its component parts, its conclusion and it's evidence.

Now you probably spotted that this argument has two conclusory keywords, a Thus and a Hence. Only one thing can be the conclusion in an argument. It'll be the end point of all the reasoning and here the end point of all the reasoning is the last sentence, which boils down to most people would probably agree that it's sometimes morally okay to obstruct the police in their work.

The sentence right before that is an intermediate conclusion. It explains why it would be likely to be accepted that it's sometimes okay to obstruct the police because few people will deny that if your child is falsely accused and you know it, it'd be morally okay for you to hide them from the police. That in turn is supported by another statement which is the first piece of evidence.

In all cultures pretty much everyone agrees that you have a moral duty to prevent harm from coming to your family members. Now, the flaw here is a sort of false choice. So you have a moral right to protect your children. You also have a moral duty to help the police. And this argument is saying that clearly people would say that because of the first one, it would outweigh the second one.

But no evidence is given to establish that, it's just asserted. That's how the decision would break down. So that's the flaw. Let's look forward in the answer choices. Answer choice A, this answer is wrong for a couple reasons. It says that they're utilizing a single type of example for the purpose of justifying a broad generalization.

Well actually the conclusion isn't a broad generalization, it's just a small claim that it is sometimes morally right to obstruct the police and also they don't use a single example to justify that. They use a big broad statement to justify it in all cultures. So answer choice A is wrong for two reasons. Go on to answer choice B.

Now this answer is what we were looking for. The argument fails to consider the possibility that other moral principles would be recognized as overriding the obligation to protect your family from harm. Remember, the argument is saying, that your moral duty to prevent members of your family from coming to harm is what would mean that it was morally right to obstruct the police.

But there could be moral principles that say it's always wrong to obstruct the police and that might be seen as overriding the moral duty to your family since the argument doesn't give any evidence to justify which moral principle is more important. This is our flaw. So just a courtesy glance to the other answers to see why they're wrong.

Answer choice C is wrong for a couple of reasons. The easiest one is that it's talking about assisting justice, whereas the argument is about obstructing it. But it's just a bad answer choice overall. The argument doesn't require believing that arresting innocent people is good for justice.

Answer choice D, now this one is wrong because the argument doesn't require assuming that there is no moral obligation to obey the law. Just that your obligation to your family overrides that obligation, there can still be an obligation. The argument only requires assuming that one obligation overrides the other. And answer choice E, well this answer choice is wrong because it doesn't describe the argument that we were given.

The argument was limited only to cases where the parents know that their child was falsely accused. So they're not mistaken, they know. Notice it doesn't say that they think their children are falsely accused. So because it doesn't describe our argument, it's not our answer and answer choice B was.

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