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Identify any examples of fallacies in the following passages. Tell why you think they are present, and identify which category they belong in, if they fit any category we’ve described.
2. It doesn’t make any sense to speak of tracing an individual human life back past the moment of conception. After all, that’s the beginning, and you can’t go back past the beginning.
3. MOE: The death penalty is an excellent deterrent for murder.
JOE: What makes you think so?
MOE: Because there’s no evidence that it’s not a deterrent.
JOE: Well, states with capital punishment have higher murder rates than states that don’t have it.
MOE: Yes, but that’s only because there are so many legal technicalities standing in the way of executions that convicted people hardly ever get executed. Remove those technicalities, and the rate would be lower in those states.
5. Overheard: “Once we let these uptight guardians of morality have their way and start censoring Playboy and Penthouse, the next thing you know they’ll be dictating everything we can read. We’ll be in fine shape when they decide that Webster’s should be pulled from the shelves.”
6. It seems the biggest problem the nuclear industry has to deal with is not a poor safety record, but a lack of education of the public on nuclear power. Thousands of people die each year from pollution generated by coal-fired plants. Yet to date, there has been no death directly caused by radiation at a commercial nuclear power plant in the United States. We have a clear choice: an old, death-dealing source of energy or a safe, clean one. Proven through the test of time, nuclear power is clearly the safest form of energy and the least detrimental to the environment. Yet it is perceived as unsafe and an environmental hazard.
8. The mayor’s argument is that because the developers’ fee would reduce the number of building starts, ultimately the city would lose more money than it would gain through the fee. But I can’t go along with that. Mayor Tower is a member of the Board of Realtors, and you know what they think of the fee.
9. Letter to the editor: “Next week the philosopher Tom Regan will be in town again, peddling his animal rights theory. In case you’ve forgotten, Regan was here about three years ago arguing against using animals in scientific experimentation. As far as I could see then and can see now, neither Regan nor anyone else has managed to come up with a good reason why animals should not be experimented on. Emotional appeals and horror stories no doubt influence many, but they shouldn’t. I’ve always wondered what Regan would say if his children needed medical treatment that was based on animal experiments.”