Straw man arguments are found in a number of logical reasoning question types on the LSAT, including flawed reasoning questions, parallel flawed reasoning questions, and method of reasoning questions.
A straw man argument is a fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.
Or more simply: a straw man argument presents a weaker version of the opponents argument and attacks that weakened argument rather than the original argument. It often involves rephrasing the opposing argument in order to make it more vulnerable to attack.
Person A: We should liberalize the laws on marijuana.
Person B: No, any society with unrestricted access to intoxicants loses its work ethic and goes only for immediate gratification.
The proposal was to relax laws on marijuana. Person B has exaggerated this to a position harder to defend, i.e., “unrestricted access to intoxicants”.
Straw Man arguments can be described on the LSAT as:
“portrays opponents views as more extreme than they actually are”
“rephrases the opposing viewpoint in order to make it more vulnerable to criticism”
“distorts the proposal made by the advocates”
“misstates the original position held by the politician in order to make it easier to refute”
These statements can be included either as a correct or incorrect answer. By understanding the straw man fallacy you will be faster at identifying these answer choices as correct or incorrect.
For free access to a complete “Flawed Reasoning Tutorial” email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The tutorial is online and interactive and includes 16 other common forms of flawed reasoning found on the LSAT.