Appeal to an Authority/Appeal to an INAPPROPRIATE authority?

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WaltGrace83

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Appeal to an Authority/Appeal to an INAPPROPRIATE authority?

Postby WaltGrace83 » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:39 pm

I recently examined 20.4.20 ("The report released...Senator Armand").

This one is a very interesting stimulus both in its actual text and its answer choices. Within this stimulus, we get an appeal to an authority. Senator Armand is clearly an authority for being a senator (yes guys and girls, we'll accept this), a "distinguished mathematician," and being a "woman of indisputable brilliance." However, some folks on the MLSAT Forum were having a discussion about Armand being an inappropriate authority. Interesting.

I am wondering if I (and possibly others) are having a slight misunderstanding of the larger flaw of "appealing to an authority." Could it be that simply appealing to an authority isn't intrinsically illogical but rather appealing to an inappropriate authority is inherently illogical? Had the question gone slightly differently, I think there would be some interesting stuff going on here.

What if the question had said this, "If these figures are accurate, the program has been a success. Senator Armand, a distinguished mathematician and a woman of disputable brilliant, maintains, however, that the figures are right. Clearly, therefore, the program was a success."

Now what do we have? We are clearly appealing to an authority yet I feel that this argument is not intrinsically illogical because we have some credentials for the Senator: she's a "brilliant mathematician!" Thus, wouldn't she know if the figures are off?

Furthermore, is (C) not flawed at all? What about (B)? To me, (B) looks very good but it DOES fail to give any of Gloria's "credentials" whereas (E) definitely does.




I don't know if all of this is just a big waste of time but I think I can learn something from it.

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Clyde Frog

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Re: Appeal to an Authority/Appeal to an INAPPROPRIATE authority?

Postby Clyde Frog » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:38 am

WaltGrace83 wrote:I recently examined 20.4.20 ("The report released...Senator Armand").

This one is a very interesting stimulus both in its actual text and its answer choices. Within this stimulus, we get an appeal to an authority. Senator Armand is clearly an authority for being a senator (yes guys and girls, we'll accept this), a "distinguished mathematician," and being a "woman of indisputable brilliance." However, some folks on the MLSAT Forum were having a discussion about Armand being an inappropriate authority. Interesting.

I am wondering if I (and possibly others) are having a slight misunderstanding of the larger flaw of "appealing to an authority." Could it be that simply appealing to an authority isn't intrinsically illogical but rather appealing to an inappropriate authority is inherently illogical? Had the question gone slightly differently, I think there would be some interesting stuff going on here.

What if the question had said this, "If these figures are accurate, the program has been a success. Senator Armand, a distinguished mathematician and a woman of disputable brilliant, maintains, however, that the figures are right. Clearly, therefore, the program was a success."

Now what do we have? We are clearly appealing to an authority yet I feel that this argument is not intrinsically illogical because we have some credentials for the Senator: she's a "brilliant mathematician!" Thus, wouldn't she know if the figures are off?

Furthermore, is (C) not flawed at all? What about (B)? To me, (B) looks very good but it DOES fail to give any of Gloria's "credentials" whereas (E) definitely does.




I don't know if all of this is just a big waste of time but I think I can learn something from it.



I took a look at this one and (E) seemed like the obvious answer. The reason for this is that the interior ministry has direct knowledge of this type of information, which is supported by the fact that they spent 5 years preparing a report on it. While the Senator may have a bit of knowledge about it, they do not have the support for it that the interior ministry has.

Answer choice (E) states that Moira has direct knowledge that Lee won the race. Heck, she was right there, what else could you ask for? While Lomas, a bicycle engineer (is there a college degree for this?), probably knows a hell of a lot about bikes, it doesn't mean he has better knowledge of who won the race, for which Moira saw the actual outcome.


A pretty good match IMO


Think about that obnoxious professor you had in college that could never be wrong, regardless of your direct knowledge about something, because anyone that has a Ph. D automatically knows more than you NO MATTER WHAT!

foggynotion

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Re: Appeal to an Authority/Appeal to an INAPPROPRIATE authority?

Postby foggynotion » Fri Jun 06, 2014 4:23 am

What if the question had said this, "If these figures are accurate, the program has been a success. Senator Armand, a distinguished mathematician and a woman of disputable brilliant, maintains, however, that the figures are right. Clearly, therefore, the program was a success."


I think this would still be an inappropriate appeal. The figures are about how big of an increase there was in arable land. Even if Armand is a math genius, that doesn't mean she would know if there really was a 19% increase in the amount of arable land.

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WaltGrace83

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Re: Appeal to an Authority/Appeal to an INAPPROPRIATE authority?

Postby WaltGrace83 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:44 am

So would this imply that there is a difference between appeal to an AUTHORITY and an INAPPROPRIATE AUTHORITY? This is what I am wondering.

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haroldton86

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Re: Appeal to an Authority/Appeal to an INAPPROPRIATE authority?

Postby haroldton86 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 2:46 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:So would this imply that there is a difference between appeal to an AUTHORITY and an INAPPROPRIATE AUTHORITY? This is what I am wondering.


An appeal to authority is appropriate only if the authority who is being appealed to is appropriate (e.g. a nuclear scientist commenting on a nuclear science matter). An inappropriate authority on the LSAT will be very noticeable. Additionally, if an argument solely relies on one single authority (e.g. one scientist) and ignores the rest of the community (or ignores other withstanding evidence), the appeal to the authority isn't necessarily inappropriate but it generally isn't sufficient to conclude something on the basis of it.

Also, for (b) and (c), the counterclaims being made by Gloria and Dr. Treviso, respectively, are completely legitimate because they are on their own rights fair. (Gloria could full well have not been selected, and Dr. Treviso makes a pretty fair claim). Whereas with (e), as Clyde Frog pointed out, the claim that is being countered is unsubstantiated because the appeal is inappropriate given the withstanding evidence.



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