The author of this piece commits some serious logical errors owing to the fact that he/she is trying to convince other readers to support his/her position based on a bad flow of reasoning (Andolina and Andolina, 2001). First, he goes on to assert that the murder of a young boy that happened by the horseshoe pits was committed by homeless individuals. To substantiate these allegations, he says that witnesses at the scene saw persons dressed in old tattered clothes and according to him/her all homeless persons dress the same way. He does not cite evidence-based studies that actually established that all homeless people dress in worn-out clothes. This type of deductive reasoning leads the writer to commit a formal fallacy (Hughes and Lavery, 2004). It is evident that the writer has encountered several homeless people and they all were dressed in a particular way. Since the witnesses at the murder scene saw individuals whose mode of dressing fitted the profile of the author’s view of a homeless person, he automatically concluded that they were bums. Below is a summary of the writer’s flow of thought:
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- Homeless person 1 is dressed in old worn-out gear
- Homeless person 2 is dressed in old worn-out gear
- Person 3 is dressed in old worn-out gear.
- Therefore, Person 3 must be a bum
The writer of the piece again goes ahead to explain that homeless people lower property values. He/she does not, however, explain the terms in which these individuals lower property values. As a matter of fact, the statement itself is ambiguous. By saying that homeless people lower property values, the grammatical implication of the sentence is that homeless people are tasked with the responsibility of adjusting property values downwards. It is, therefore, not immediately clear why the writer should have any issue with ‘bums’ who are doing their work of lowering property value. Assuming that the writer wanted to imply that the presence of homeless people in a location ends up reducing the value of the property that is set up in the region, the statement carries an informal error, the arises from inductive reasoning (Moore and Parker, 2006). Below is a summary of the writer’s flow of thought leading to him committing this fallacy:
- Homeless people led to a loss of value of property X
- Homeless people led to a loss of value of property Y
- Therefore, homeless people will lead to a loss of value of property Z
Another presentation of deductive reasoning which subsequently leads the writer to commit a formal fallacy presents in the statement asserting that job opportunities are always there and it only requires the effort of an individual to find them. The kind of reasoning that informs this statement is summarized below:
- Person J looked for a job and he found it
- Person K looked for a job and he found it
- Therefore, if person L looks for a job, he will find it
In the states where the author says that homeless people are down and out, he/she does not offer any evidence of homeless people being down and out. He/she expects the reader to agree with him/her even if the reader is not of the same opinion. The argument originates from the societal view that homeless people are actually sufferers and that there can’t be a good thing that comes from their lives.
The final sentence is inductive because it only looks at the situation of the homeless people from a very narrow-angle. The author assumes that the situation the bums are in can either be caused by the bums themselves or by other people. The author, without substantiating his conclusion rules other people out of the equation and decides that homeless people live the way they do out of their own will.
The entire statement of opinion is a syllogism drawing from the fact that its essential conclusion is that homeless people are killers. The premises of the writing even though hidden within the various sentences, are meant to describe the appearance of the homeless people, to describe how homeless people found themselves in their current situation. The proposition in this regard is an illustration of the negative impact of homeless people on society. To a very large extent, the writer draws his conclusion from a form of deductive reasoning. The summation flow of the argument is as described below:
- Homeless person A killed a person
- Homeless person B Killed a person
- Person C is homeless
- Therefore, person C is a killer
In this argument, a homeless person is thought of by the writer as one who:
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- Dresses in old worn-out clothes
- This leads to a loss of value of property
- Does not want to look for a job
- Found him/herself without a home out of the will
As much as this statement of opinion comes from a personal point of view, it carries a lot of logical errors that make it void.
Andolina, M. and Andolina, M. (2001). Practical guide to critical thinking. Connecticut: Cengage Learning
Hughes, W. and Lavery, J. (2004). Critical thinking: an introduction to the basic skills. Canada: Broadview Press.
Moore, B.N. and Parker, B. (2006). Critical Thinking by Brooke Noel Moore and Richard Parker 8th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.