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Logical Fallacies

Page history last edited by Don Pogreba 12 years ago


Fallacies of Distraction

  • False Dilemma: two choices are given when in fact there are more options
  • From Ignorance: because something is not known to be true, it is assumed to be false
  • Slippery Slope: a series of increasingly unacceptable consequences is drawn
  • Complex Question: two unrelated points are conjoined as a single proposition


Appeals to Motives Instead of Support

  • Appeal to Force: the reader is persuaded to agree by force
  • Appeal to Pity: the reader is persuaded to agree by sympathy
  • Consequences: the reader is warned of unacceptable consequences
  • Prejudicial Language: value or moral goodness is attached to believing the author
  • Popularity: a proposition is argued to be true because it is widely held to be true


Changing the Subject

  • Attacking the Person: (Ad Hominem)

1) the person's character is attacked

2) the person's circumstances are noted

3) the person does not practice what is preached

  • Appeal to Authority:

1) the authority is not an expert in the field

2) experts in the field disagree

3) the authority was joking, drunk, or in some other way not being serious

  • Anonymous Authority: the authority in question is not named
  • Style Over Substance: the manner in which an argument (or arguer) is presented is felt to affect the truth of the conclusion


Inductive Fallacies

  • Hasty Generalization: the sample is too small to support an inductive generalization about a population
  • Unrepresentative Sample: the sample is unrepresentative of the sample as a whole
  • False Analogy: the two objects or events being compared are relevantly dissimilar
  • Slothful Induction: the conclusion of a strong inductive argument is denied despite the evidence to the contrary
  • Fallacy of Exclusion: evidence which would change the outcome of an inductive argument is excluded from consideration


Statistical Syllogisms

  • Accident: a generalization is applied when circumstances suggest that there should be an exception
  • Converse Accident : an exception is applied in circumstances where a generalization should apply


Causal Fallacies

  • Post Hoc: because one thing follows another, it is held to cause the other
  • Joint effect: one thing is held to cause another when in fact they are both the joint effects of an underlying cause
  • Insignificant: one thing is held to cause another, and it does, but it is insignificant compared to other causes of the effect
  • Wrong Direction: the direction between cause and effect is reversed
  • Complex Cause: the cause identified is only a part of the entire cause of the effect


Missing the Point

  • Begging the Question: the truth of the conclusion is assumed by the premises
  • Irrelevant Conclusion: an argument in defense of one conclusion instead proves a different conclusion
  • Straw Person: the author attacks an argument different from (and weaker than) the opposition's best argument


Fallacies of Ambiguity

  • Equivocation: the same term is used with two different meanings
  • Amphiboly: the structure of a sentence allows two different interpretations
  • Accent: the emphasis on a word or phrase suggests a meaning contrary to what the sentence actually says


Category Errors

  • Composition: because the attributes of the parts of a whole have a certain property, it is argued that the whole has that property
  • Division: because the whole has a certain property, it is argued that the parts have that property


Non Sequitur

  • Affirming the Consequent: any argument of the form: If A then B, B, therefore A
  • Denying the Antecedent: any argument of the form: If A then B, Not A, thus Not B
  • Inconsistency: asserting that contrary or contradictory statements are both true



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