John asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 7 years ago

What fallacy does this fall under? PLEASE HELP ASAP?!?

I came a across this very challenging fallacy which I'm having trouble identifying. I need to only choose one fallacy but I feel as though this argument lends itself to more than one! :/ Whoever best breaks down this argument and explains how it's possibly a questionable analogy will get 10 points!

Here's the example:

"Psychologist B.F. Skinner: The concept of responsibility is particularly weak when behavior is traced to genetic determiners. We may admire beauty, grace, and sensitivity, but we do not blame a person because he is ugly, spastic, or color blind. Less conspicuous forms of genetic endowment nevertheless cause trouble. Individuals presumably differ, as species differ, in the extent to which they respond aggressively or are reinforced when they engage in sexual behavior or are affected by sexual reinforcement. Are they, therefore, equally responsible for controlling their aggressive or sexual behavior, and is it fair to punish them to the same extent? If we do not punish a person for a club foot, should we punish him for being quick to anger or highly susceptible to sexual reinforcement? The issue has recently been raised by the possibility that many criminals show an anomaly in their chromosomes. The concept of responsibility offers little help. The issue is controllability. We cannot change genetic defects by punishment; we can only work through genetic measures which operate on a much longer time scale. What must be changed is not responsibility of autonomous man but the conditions, environmental or genetic, of which a person's behavior is a function."

P.s. For P-2 plug this definition in: "The things being compared are sufficiently similar in the important & relavent ways such that what you accept and conclude for one you should accept or conclude for the other"

& identify clearly what two things are being compared and please explain how they're irrelevant and dissimilar.

I figured out it could be a Questionable Analogy based on this site:

(Page 385 #15 and at the top it says Argument by Analogy so that clearly narrows down my options to Questionable Analogy, however I'm still not sure. If anyone could show how this is so I'd appreciate it!) I badly need help on this example...

(If there is something wrong with my break down or my explanation needs improvement please let me know.)

Here are the list of fallacies:

Small Sample

Unrepresentative Sample

Unknowable Statistics

Questionable Statistics

Questionable Use of Statistics

Appeal to Authority

Ad Hominem



Begging the Question

- Circular Reasoning

- Evading the Issue


False Dilemma

- Either-Or Fallacy (variation)

Guilt by Association

Two Wrongs Make a Right

Common Practice

Traditional Wisdom



Irrelevant Reason


Appeal to Ignorance

Slippery Slope

Hasty Conclusion

Questionable Cause

Neglecting a Common Cause

Post Hoc

Questionable Analogy

Polls Fallacy

False Charge Fallacy

Thanks in advance! :)

1 Answer

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago
    Best Answer

    You're absolutely right. It's not necessarily clear that there IS a fallacy, in that the argument is questioning WHETHER we should treat the club foot and the agression similarly.

    But, to the extent that the author attempts to draw an analogy between physical traits and behavioural ones, it is a Questionable Analogy - for the following reason.

    Both groups of characteristics are connected at the base level - genetics. In each case, a gene has gone 'wrong'.

    The secondary grouping, often called phenotype, or how the gene expresses itself in the actual physical makeup of the person, is also comparable. So, taking only the club foot and the quickness to anger examples - what should be compared is the club foot and whatever the gene codes for in the person who is quick to anger - for example, a particular structure in the brain, overactive glands creating hormones or whatever.

    Where the analogy therefore breaks down is:-

    There is no third level in one case to be compared with the third level in the other. By this I mean:- a club foot does (in itself) have any influence on behaviour. An overactive gland does. A person is not punished for having a club foot, because having a club foot is not something they do, it is something they are. Similarly, we should not punish someone for having an overactive gland but this does NOT LOGICALLY LEAD TO 'we should not punish them for their actions based on HAVING an overactive gland'. The writer has made no attempt to establish any reasoning for this final step.

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