David Marks Staff asked 4 years ago

What way is this argument flawed

In what way is this argument flawed -‘Since Jessica’s participation in local politics increased significantly after she joined her school’s political science club, it is clear that her involvement in that club led her to take an interest in politics’?

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1 Answers
David Marks Staff answered 4 years ago

The given argument has the flaw of circularity. Let us say that Jessica’s interest in politics is denoted by ‘A’, and her joining the political science club is ‘B’. The above argument can then be articulated as follows:
Given B (jessica joined political science club), we have A (jessica’s interest in politics)
…and therefore,
B causes A.
This is a fallacious inference since A need not be necessarily caused by B. There may be factors contributing to A besides that of B. This should also make sense intuitively.
Let us take an example:
If I start eating ice-cream every time it rains, does it mean that the rain is causing me to eat ice cream? If one answers ‘yes’ to this question we can feel that it is a bit of a logical stretch to answer this statement in the affirmative. This is because there maybe additional invisible factors causing me to eat ice-cream. There is no scientific experiment that can prove that rain causes increase in ice-cream consumption.
However, such reasoning would be correct in the case of scientific formulae and so forth. For example, we know that sunlight causes the evaporation of water. So, does this mean that wherever there is sunlight and there is water, there will be evaporation? Yes, of course!