Friday, June 22, 2012

Fallacies in arguments

Just to prep you in time for any debates you might watch.  These are some of the different fallacies in arguments. The definitions are taken from Arguments and Arguing: The Products and Process of Human Decision Making by Thomas A. Hollihan and Kevin T Basske.

Ad hominem: a false attack on someone rather than on their argument. This is a fallacy of reasoning in which an individual offers criticism of someone as the grounds for rejecting the arguments proposed. It is considered a fallacy because the attacks on the person may have nothing to do with the wisdom of the argument.

Ad populum: a false appeal to the people. This is a fallacy of reasoning in which someone offers the agreement of most people as the grounds for a claim.  It is considered a fallacy because the majority may be wrong.

Appeal to fear: a false appeal to the need for safety.  This is a fallacy of reasoning in which someone offers a threat as the grounds for compliance with a demand.  It is considered a fallacy because the threat of force denies the audience any real choice.

Appeal to pity: a false appeal for sympathy.  This is a fallacy of reasoning in which someone offers a request for sympathy as the grounds for a claim.  It is considered a fallacy because the request for pity may have nothing to do with the wisdom of a claim.

Appeal to tradition: A false appeal to the way things have historically been done.  This is a fallacy of reasoningin which someone offers a history of behavior as the grounds for continuing to act in a particular manner.  It is considered a fallacy because previous ways of doing things maynot justify doing things the same way in the future. 

Begging the question: a fallacy of reasoning in which someone offers a restatement of the claim as the grounds for the claim.  It is considered a fallacy because the person has not offered new information that constitutes support for the claim.

Fallacy of composition: a fallacy of reasoning in which one argues that what is true of a part is true of the whole.  It is a fallacy because a whole may or may posess the qualities of the individual parts.

Fallacy of division: a fallacy of reasoning in which one argues that what is true of the whole is true of the component parts.  It is a fallacy because a component may or may not have the qualities of the whole.

Fallacy of false dichotomoy: a fallacy of reasoning when one falsely divides the situation into only two alternatives.  It is considered a fallacy because there may be other alternatives other than the two proposed.

False reasoning by analogy: a fallacy of reasoing where one implies that one thing is like another.  It is considered a fallacy because the things that are compared may not be alike ina meaningful way or their attributes are not similar enough.

False reasoning by causal generalization: a fallacy of reasoning where one fasely applies general principles to a specific case.  It is considered a fallacy becuase the general principles might not apply to the specific case.

False reasoning by sign: a fallacy of reasoning in which one too quickly draws a conclusion from a limited number of signs.  It is considered a fallacy because the signs may be too few from which to draw a conclusion.

hasty generalization: a fallacy of reasoning in which someone moves too quickly from examples to a generalization without sufficient rationale.  It is considered a fallacy because the number of examples cited may not be sufficient to support the claim or be typical of the claim to which the person is generalizing.

shifting the burden of proof: a fallacy of rasoning in which someone challenges another to refure his or her argument rather than offer grounds in support of the claim.  It is considered a fallacy because each advocate has the burden of proving his or her own claim.

slippery slope: a false appeal to the inevitability of an undesirable outcome if a first step is taken.  This is a fallacy of reasonining in which someone argues that an action should not be taken because it will eventually lead to some unwanted end.  It is considered a fallacy because one action does not necessarily lead to subsequent actions.

straw man fallacy: a fallacy of reasoning in which an advocate presents a weak argument of an opponent and, in refuting it, chaacterizes all of the opposing argumens as equally spurious.  It is considered a fallacy because the other might select a particularly inadequate argument to refute.

tu quoque: literally "you're another."  The fallacy of reasoning in which someone defends his or her actions by pointing out that others acted in a similar fashion.  It is considered a fallacy because the actions of others are frequently irrelevant to whether or not one's actions are responsible.


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