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Thinking Skills Paper 2 q. 3. Nov. 2012-23 (‘ Opinions ’). (a) 2 marks Using the exact words from the passage as far as possible, identify the main conclusion . How well does the research support this title?.

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thinking skills paper 2 q 3

ThinkingSkillsPaper 2 q. 3

Nov. 2012-23



(a) 2 marksUsing the exact words from the passage as far as possible, identify the main conclusion. How well does the research support this title?

  • If someone’s opinion is wrong, or they hold it for no good reason, then they are not entitled to it (2)
  • If someone’s opinion is wrong … they are not entitled to it (1)
  • No one is entitled to hold an opinion which is evidently wrong (1)
(b) 3 marksUsing the exact words from the passage as far as possible, identify three reasons used to supportthemainconclusion.
  • The claim to be entitled to one’s opinion is a poor excuse for intellectual laziness
  • If we voice an opinion without having thought about the issue, weighed the issue and considered alternative views, we are being less than human
  • Anyone who thinks that all opinions are equally acceptable is a fool
  • No one is entitled to hold an opinion which is evidently wrong

(d) 5 marksEvaluate ‘No one should ever tell anyone else that their opinion is wrong.’Write your own argument to support or challenge this claim. The conclusion of your argumentmust be stated.

Underline/highlightthefollowing in youranswer:

  • Mainconclusion
  • Counterargument
  • Reasons
  • Examples
  • Intermediateconclusion

(c) 5 marksEvaluate the reasoning in the argument. In your answer you should consider any strengths, weaknesses, flaws and unstated assumptions.

  • Underline/highlightkeyevaluatingwords in youranswer, such as:
  • Assumption, strawman, conflation, open tochallenge, clear, notclear, contradiction, coherent, incoherent, confusing, exaggeration, slipperyslope, ambiguous, supports, doesnotsupport, emotivelanguage, rhetoricaleffect, weakens, logical, illogical, generalisation, ad hominem, restrictstheoptions, jumping toconclusions, unjustified, misleadinganalogy, good/poor use of examples, confusingcorrelation and cause, confusingnecessary and sufficientconditions, relyingtoomuchonanecdote, beggingthequestion (circular argument), beingstupid

WIKIPEDIA: In general, an opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement about matters commonly considered to be subjective, i.e. based on that which is less than absolutely certain, and is the result of emotion or interpretation of facts. What distinguishes fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, i.e. can be objectively proven to have occurred. An example is: "America was involved in the Vietnam War" versus "America was right to get involved in the Vietnam War". An opinion may be supported by facts, in which case it becomes an argument, although people may draw opposing opinions from the same set of facts.

… It can be reasoned that one opinion is better supported by the facts than another by analyzing the supporting arguments. In casual use, the term opinion may be the result of a person's perspective, understanding, particular feelings, beliefs, and desires. It may refer to unsubstantiated information, in contrast to knowledge and fact.


Argument more or less reasonable in first 3 paragraphs, but then becomes particularly imprecise, emotive and exaggerated

  • Open to challenge because author’s definitions of ‘opinion’, ‘fact’, and even ‘entitled’, are not clear and seem to be at times inaccurate
  • Conflates terms – opinion and fact – confuses the argument
paragraph 1
Paragraph 1
  • counter argument, slightly straw man because of over-simplification
  • assumes that it is possible for an opinion to be definitely right or wrong (which becomes a direct assertion in paragraph 6) – most dictionary definitions of ‘opinion’ would disagree
  • unclear what the author means by ‘entitled’ – actually says people are ‘not entitled to hold’ certain opinions – not clear how this could even be possible
  • would be more reasonable to say something like, ‘people are not entitled to express opinions unchallenged’
  • so ‘not entitled to hold’ is a kind of exaggeration
  • therefore the main conclusion itself is ambiguous
paragraph 2
Paragraph 2
  • The reasons in this paragraph quite strongly support the intermediate conclusion in the first sentence
  • It is assumed that finding out who is right would be a good thing, which is probably a reasonable assumption on the whole (or, at least, finding out whose opinion is best supported by evidence and logic)
paragraph 3
Paragraph 3
  • ‘attack’ is slightly exaggerated, probably for rhetorical effect
  • ‘being less than human’ is an exaggeration, depends on a narrow view of what is human, and fails to acknowledge degrees of rationality – appears to imply that people who are more rational are therefore ‘more human’ than others, which is absurd
  • Slippery slope to go from someone making an unsupported assertion to being less than human
paragraph 4
Paragraph 4
  • ‘fool’ – emotive language
  • The claim that all opinions are not equally acceptable is well supported by the second sentence of this paragraph
  • The third sentence, however, weakens the argument
  • Assumes that opinions which create social problems would be ‘wrong’, and that opinions which promote prosperity and national unity would be ‘right’ (a consideration of Nazi Germany might be unsettling, in that case, as many of Hitler’s extreme views promoted both prosperity and national unity)
  • So the argument is incoherent in this paragraph
paragraph 5
Paragraph 5
  • Value judgments, tastes and preferences are contrasted with opinions
  • This is a reasonable distinction in itself, though it does not resolve the issue of whether or not opinions can be said to be right or wrong – so it perhaps distracts rather than clarifies
paragraph 6
Paragraph 6
  • Illogical to say that some opinions are facts
  • Dubious assertion that an opinion can be absolutely right or wrong
  • Poor examples:
  • Generalises unfairly from one extreme example (torturing babies) which conflates opinions and moral values
  • ‘imbecile’ – emotive language
  • Assumes there is only one generally understood and accepted definition of what is meant by ‘great musician’ – open to challenge (Is it technical prowess? Depth of musical knowledge and understanding? Influence on other musicians? Impact on society?)
  • Restricts the options by saying that in these cases there can only be right or wrong
  • An interesting point – best expressed in paragraph 2 – is rather poorly argued, with exaggeration and lack of clarity