Sigerson argues that the city should adopt ethical guidelines that preclude its politicians from accepting campaign c...

Ava on February 12, 2020

Answer choice B

I had a really difficult time with this question because when I first read it the error in reasoning I identified was that it was an ad hominem attack, but none of the answer choices considered this as an error in reasoning. Am I reading the stimulus wrong? Is that not in fact the error in reasoning here? Can someone explain why E is the best answer here over B and others? Thanks in advance!

1 Reply

Annie on February 12, 2020

Hi @shafieva,

This question asks you to find that what criticism the argument is "most vulnerable" to. This means that there may be multiple answer choices that point out criticisms of the argument, but you are looking for the best one.

(B) is incorrect because the argument is not rejecting Siegerson's reasoning because he's given an inadequate argument for it, but rather because Siegerson is being hypocritical. As you noted, he's using an ad hominem form of attack.

(E) is correct because the ad hominem attack is a weak one because of the structure of the argument. Siegerson is proposing ethical guidelines for the future, while his own behavior is in the past. We do not know that Siegerson himself would not change his behavior in the future to abide by these guidelines. So, just because his behavior in the past was different, does not mean that his proposal is dishonest.

This is a frustrating question as none of the answer choices say that the reasoning in the argument is flawed because its an ad hominem attack. Instead, the correct answer is finding the flaw buried in the ad hominem attack.