Analyze this!

Conservative or liberalVariations of the following story have been around the internet for years now. Sometimes the legend is told by an economics professor; other times by a wise father teaching his daughter the sins of liberalism.

Assignment: analyze the argument as presented in the following version posted recently by a Facebook friend:

A young woman was about to finish her first year of college. Like so many others her age, she considered herself to be very liberal, and among other liberal ideals, was very much in favor of higher taxes to support more government programs, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed that her father was a rather staunch conservative, a feeling she openly expressed. Based on the lectures that she had participated in, and the occasional chat with a professor, she felt that her father had for years harbored an evil, selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes on the rich and the need for more government programs.

The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing in school.

Taken aback, she answered rather haughtily that she had a 4.0 GPA, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many college friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, “How is your friend Audrey doing?”

She replied, “Audrey is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies and she barely has a 2.0 GPA. She is so popular on campus; college for her is a blast. She’s always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because she’s too hung over.”

Her wise father asked his daughter, “Why don’t you go to the Dean’s office and ask him to deduct 1.0 off your GPA and give it to your friend who only has a 2.0. That way you will both have a 3.0 GPA and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of GPA.”

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, “That’s a crazy idea, how would that be fair! I’ve worked really hard for my grades! I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Audrey has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my tail off!”

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, “Welcome to the conservative side of the fence.”

If you ever wondered what side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!

If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him..
If a conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced.
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.
If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A liberal will delete it because he’s “offended.”

Is there an argument? Is it compelling? Can you spot any fallacies?

Comments are welcome!

9 thoughts on “Analyze this!

  1. I’ll start the discussion. First, an obvious FAULTY DILEMMA FALLACY:
    If a conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
    A liberal will delete it because he’s “offended.”

    What? No other options?? How about analyzing the piece for consistency and determining if there are logical fallacies?

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  2. These statements are unexamined generalizations that make the conservative appear reasonable and liberals unreasonable. The statements show the liberal as demanding everyone else should live according to their standards which is not the meaning of the word ‘liberal’ [favoring or permitting freedom of action, especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression:a liberal policy toward dissident artists and writers]. The father’s question on why his daughter should not share her marks with a student who received less does not parallel the need to help the less fortunate. It assumes that those who are poor deserve to be because they did work hard enough. The story itself is biased towards political and social conservatives.

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    • Hasty Generalization.
      And: A false analogy is a rhetorical fallacy that uses an analogy (comparing objects or ideas with similar characteristics, in this case $$$ and grades) to support an argument, but the conclusion made by it is not supported by the analogy due to the differences between the two objects.

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  3. From Facebook: “Jason Nemeth: Well, obviously a rhetorical argument more than a well thought out and constructed one, more for your facebook wall than the classroom. Still its in response to a position I might take for a strawman had I not heard so many many people repeat it – “high taxes to fund government programs is the correct solution to the problem of poverty” – This too involves so many assumptions.”

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  4. If you are interested, dear readers, there is a link in the right-hand column to the Nizkor Project with a discussion of a whole bunch of informal fallacies. Armed with that vocabulary you can (lovingly) point out what is wrong with your opponent’s argument! 😉

    Like

  5. The “test” is totally bogus!
    If a conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
    If a liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
    If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
    If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

    There are several fallacies in each pair of statements. Gun control laws do not depend on “likes”!

    Liked by 1 person

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