K. Wesley Jarboe I
February 8, 2011
Before we can understand what a logical fallacy is, we establish some common background information for the purposes of accurate communication. There are two types of reasoning, inductive and deductive. The primary difference between the two is that inductive reasoning automatically allows for an appeal to probability, the assumption that what could happen will happen, while deductive reasoning considers this a logical fallacy. Thus for the purposes of this document we only need to examine deductive reasoning because it has the full list of logical fallacies while inductive reasoning short by one. In deductive reasoning the proponent of an idea attempts to prove that the one solution or conclusion is the only one that is possible given the identified facts or premises. For instance in the above paragraph I stated the following premises: 1. Inductive reasoning allows for solutions that would be considered fallacious in deductive reasoning 2. The purpose of this document is to examine logical fallacies rather than types of reasoning Based on these premises I drew the conclusion that we only need to discuss one type of reasoning and that one type should be deductive reasoning because it has the full list of logical fallacies. Among many scholars this is called an argument. It is a set of premises and a conclusion that can be drawn from those premises. And this is deductive reasoning because it attempts to eliminate all other options rather than deciding which is the most probable. In the ideal circumstances the premises will represent what is known and the conclusion will relate to the premises in such a way as to be the only possible option. In practice this is rarely the case. The two main reasons for lack of accuracy in problem solving by deductive reasoning are factual fallacies and logical fallacies. Factual fallacies are when the premises are actively false. To say that factual fallacies are the subject of this paper would be a factual fallacy. Logical fallacies, on the other hand, assume that the premises are true but do not support the conclusion. I’ll use mathematics to illustrate the difference between factual and logical fallacies. If someone says that there are two pencils in this bag and two in another bag and therefore we have five pencils, there are two possible errors that could have led the person to this conclusion. If there were actually three pencils in one bag then the error would be a factual error as the person miscounted the number of pencils in one of the bags and one of the premises is false. If both bags contain two pencils however, then the person has committed a logical fallacy in that his premises are true but he has added incorrectly. And, while most people assume that their logic is sound, logical fallacies are far more common in every day life than factual fallacies. Many people have not even considered all of the many types of logical fallacies to be capable of eliminating all of them from their arguments. The Nizkor Project  lists 42 types of logical fallacies, in a single category, on their website. Wikipedia  by comparison lists more than a hundred types of logical fallacies in two major categories and several sub-categories. Other resources list varying numbers of types of logical fallacies. So we can conclude that there are many types of logical fallacies and that there is some dispute on how they should be defined and categorized. Wading through this muddle of information can be a daunting task until one learns that the concept of logical fallacies apply to all humans including the humans who produce lists of logical fallacies. Once the person realizes that the people making or presenting the lists of logical fallacies the person can take a moment of brief comfort. But that moment of comfort is usually short lived however because the...