Exercise

For each of the four conclusions, here are one relevant and one irrelevant premise (can you see which is which?):

a 'In a democracy, voting is not just a right but a civic duty' and 'Many

European swallows fly south for the winter', b 'Humans can only survive if the environment is well protected' and 'Mining activities in Australia usually trespass on Aboriginal lands', c 'Eighty per cent of the songs on commercial radio come from the USA' and

'My family watches The Simpsons every night', d 'Personal computers help us to work, study, and relax' and 'There are two main types of personal computer: the PC and the Macintosh'.

The first premise, in each case, is relevant. Note how all of the premises are acceptable, even though in some cases they are patently irrelevant (as in exercise 6.3 (a)).

The most important questions to ask yourself after doing this exercise are: Why do some irrelevant premises appear relevant? What mistakes do we make when we misjudge relevance? Reflect on these questions and come up with some answers in relation to an area of knowledge or expertise with which you are familiar.

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