What is a Logical Fallacy? The purpose of an argument is to substantiate a claim. Hence, an argument is a collection of evidence, (the Premises), structured in such a way that a claim, (the Conclusion), follows from the evidence. An argument may fail to support its conclusion in one of two ways: by relaying on fallacious content, or by failing to properly structure its premises.
50 Shades of Fallacy There are many kinds of fallacies of content: fallacies of irrelevance, fallacies of ambiguity, fallacies of false presumption, and so on. When an argument suffers from one of these substantive problems, we say that is fallacious.
Fallacies of Relevance 1. Argument Against the Person – This fallacy occurs when an arguer attacks the character of his/her opponent, the situation of his/her opponent, or generally abuses his/her opponent, as opposed to defeating his/her opponent’s argument. Example : Hilary Clinton said that women should receive equal pay for equal work. But, of course, she believes that, after all, she’s a woman.
The Top 10 Fallacies Appeal to Pity – This fallacy occurs when an arguer attempts to elicit pity or sympathy from his/her listeners in order to get them to accept his/her conclusion. Example : This audience must vote for any argument that supports the mentally disabled. Hence, since I have argued in favor of the mentally disabled, you (audience) are obligated to vote for me. So I win this debate.
The Top 10 Fallacies Appeal to Force – This fallacy occurs when the arguer threatens his/her listeners in order to get them to accept his/her conclusion. Example : (Big Brother to Little Brother) Ok, I’m tired of talking about it. Meghan Foxx is way prettier than Selena Gomez. And, if you say another word about it (disagree), I’ll beat you down.
The Top 10 Fallacies Missing the Point –This is the most common fallacy of all. In fact, all informal fallacies miss the point in one way or another. It occurs when an arguer draws a conclusion that is not supported by his/her premises. order to get them to accept his/her conclusion. Example : US schools have been consistently falling behind their international counterparts in science, math, engineering, and all of the major subjects. There is only one conclusion: we must close US schools immediately.
The Top 10 Fallacies Strawman – This fallacy occurs when an arguer distorts his/her opponent’s position, attacks the distorted position, and concludes that he/she has defeated his/her opponent. Example : Mr. Goldberg has argued against students having their cell phones in class. Obviously, Mr. Goldberg just wants the schools to have more and more power. Such power only leads in one direction, totalitarianism. But the problem with a totalitarian state is that it immediately suppresses the freedoms of its citizens. Thus, no one should support Mr. Goldberg in his quest to allow schools to keep us from having our cell phones in class.
The Top 10 Fallacies Red Herring – This fallacy occurs when an arguer shift the focus of his/her argument in order to gain an advantage over his/her opponent. If his/her opponent is not careful, the arguer will have gained an advantage, but only an illicit one Example: There is a good deal of talk these days about the need to eliminate pesticides from our fruits and vegetables. But many of these foods are essential to our health. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, broccoli is rich in iron, and oranges are rich in vitamin C.
Fallacies of False Presumption False Cause – This fallacy occurs when an arguer treats one thing as a cause of another thing where there is no real causal relationship between the two. Example: The US Olympic Team won a gold medal in every competition in which its athletes wore red shirts and blue pants. Obviously this color combination is working for us. Thus, we should always wear red shirts and blue pants.
Fallacies of False Presumption Appeal to Inappropriate Authority – This fallacy occurs when an arguer relies on an inappropriate person as an authority. Example: Pastor Jerry Falwell has said that Hurricane Katrina was a result of the sins of the citizens of New Orleans. Therefore, the Government of New Orleans should make sins legal.
Fallacies of False Presumption Begging the Question – This fallacy occurs when an arguer reasons in a circle. Example: Dr. Stevens is the smartest professor at Pleblo College. We know this because Dr. Stevens said he is the smartest professor at Pleblo, and Dr. Stevens never lies.
Fallacies of False Presumption Hasty Generalization (also called the stereotyping fallacy) – This fallacy occurs when an arguer draws a conclusion from an atypical sample. Example: (Person in a foreign country) Every American that I see on television is young, beautiful, and rich. Hummmm. It must be the case that all Americans are young, beautiful, and rich.
Fallacies of False Presumption Slippery Slope – This fallacy occurs when an arguer’s conclusion depends on an unlikely chain of events. Example: We should never attempt to outlaw automatic assault rifles. If we do, there will be no end to what we will outlaw. Next it will be shotguns, then handguns, then knives, the any sharp object whatsoever. Banning automatic assault rifles is just a bad idea.
Fallacies of False Presumption False Dichotomy – This fallacy occurs when an arguer uses an either/or statement in order to hide alternatives that are different from the one he/she wants you to accept. Example : Either you go to college or you’ll be poor and destitute. You don’t want to be poor and destitute do you?
Assignment: Visit website Download assignment sheet Note: field trip address/time/date and assignment Alternative assignment also uploaded to website Final argumentative essay draft due (after I give you my feedback) on the day we’re back from break!