Critical Reasoning: Strong & Weak Arguments

In critical reasoning, we are usually asked a question which is answered by arguments, which are both in the form of yes and no followed by an explanation. In these questions we have to find out whether the given argument is right or wrong. However instead of using right or wrong, the words used are ‘strong’ for ‘right argument’ and ‘weak’ for the ‘wrong argument’. Here usually five options are there to check the strength or weakness in any argument. In these questions, the argument can be strong or weak, one of them will be strong or either of them can be strong.
What is an argument?
Does an argument mean arguing? Arguing is a debate or disagreement between different people whereas an argument is a combination of two or more phrases, sentences or statements which includes conclusion or inference. In other words, an argument is talking about something which has a valid action or which should be logically reasonable.
Strong argument: A strong argument is the one which is logical, practical and universally applicable. The most important part is that an argument should have reason in it and that reason should be relevant to the given situation. . A strong argument will always have ‘why’ in it.
Weak argument: A weak argument is the one which is illogical, impractical and irrelevant. Also, extreme statements and examples are weak arguments. These may not be directly related to the question and the reasoning factor is weak. Such arguments can be opinion based, ambiguous or superfluous. A weak argument will not have ‘why’ in it.
Arguments can be analysis of something or the universal truths.
Let us understand these with the help of a few examples:
  1. Statement: Should words like ‘smoking is injurious to health’ essentially appear on cigarette packs?
    Arguments:
    1. Yes, it is a sort of brainwash to make the smokers realize that they are inhaling poisonous stuff.
    2. No, it hampers the enjoyment of smoking.

    Solution: We need to check which reasoning is weak or strong. Now, in option I, The reasoning is strong as we can relate to the practical aspect which may be useful to others whereas in option II, the reasoning is just enjoyment despite the fact that it is injurious to health. So the reasoning is weak and therefore, the correct answer should be option I.
  2. Statement: Should those who receive dowry, despite the law prohibiting it, be punished?
    Arguments:
    1. Yes, those who violate the law, must be punished.
    2. No, dowry system is firmly rooted in the society since time immemorial.

    Solution: In this case, a positive response is given in option I as it can lessen the problem and reasoning is also strong. On the other hand, in option II, there is a negative impact or weak reasoning for the statement given.
  3. Statement: Should officers accepting bribe be punished?
    Arguments:
    1. Yes, They should do their job they are entrusted with, honestly.
    2. No, certain circumstances may have compelled them to take bribe.

    Solution: Honesty is the best policy. So, option I goes with this fact and logic whereas option II is giving options to continue bribe. So, option I should be the correct.
Practice more such questions to get a better hold on critical reasoning section.
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