Logical Fallacies

Topics: Fallacy, Ad hominem, Argumentative Pages: 21 (1182 words) Published: February 26, 2015
Logical Fallacies
Fallacies of Relevance

Ad Hominem
 Refers to a personal attack on an arguer’s reputation or character rather than the argument itself.
 Usually seen in political debates
 Example: Teddy Roosevelt’s attacks on William Howard Taft’s obesity.

Attacking the Motive
 Refers to focusing on an attack against an arguer’s supposed motivation or bias rather than focusing on the argument itself.
 Usually points to how the arguer would benefit from his own argument.  Example: Flower companies stand to make millions this Valentine’s Day, so they are lying when they say roses have always been a ubiquitous symbol of love.

Look Who’s Talking (Tu Quoque)
 Refers to the rejection of an argument or claim based on the arguer’s inability to follow his/her own advice.
 Usually points to the arguer’s inability to practice what he preaches and rejects that helpful advice.
 Example: My doctor told me to stop smoking, but since he smokes I can still smoke; I should be okay.

Two Wrongs Make a Right
 Refers to the improper justification of an act simply because a similar act is just as bad or worse.
 Usually related to Tu Quoque
 Example:
 Mom: Jack, stop hitting your sister
 Jack: Well, she kicked me!
 It doesn’t matter that Cuba is run by a dictator. We should lift the embargo on Cuba because we have trade relations with other dictators in China and the middle east.

Scare Tactics
 Refers to the threat of violence or other detriment in order to emotionally manipulate the audience.
 Usually sound like threatening statements; related to pathos  Example:
 Politician A: We both agree that I am in charge of the bill and what can go in it; it would be so unfortunate if I withheld my vote from your next project to prove so.  We should not vote in favor of Obamacare because it would implement death panels.

Appeal to Pity (Pathos)
 Refers to the way an arguer develops a claim with emotional baggage that has no bearing on the argument.
 Usually used by students seeking a grade bump.
 Example:
 Student A: Professor, because I attended every class on time, tried my best on every assignment, and studied more than usual, I hope you can give me an A instead of a B. If I don’t get an A, my dad would be so upset! I only need 0.5 points!

Bandwagon Argument
 Refers to an arguer’s manipulation of the audience by appealing to the popularity or value of an aspect of a claim.
 Usually manipulates the audience’s desire to be “with the crowd” and not alone.
 Example: Some of the most famous musicians in history produced great music on drugs; therefore, you should use them too if you want to write good songs.

Straw Man Fallacy
 Refers to the way an arguer distorts an opponent’s claim to make it easier to attack.
 Usually uses different (tricky) words when falsely summarizing an opponent’s claim.
 Example: John claims that the Seahawks are a better football team than the 49ers, but San Francisco isn’t a bad team like the Jaguars; after all, they made it to a championship game when many others did not.

Red Herring
 Refers to the use of an irrelevant issue that is irrelevant to the main argument at hand in order to distract the audience.
 Usually used first to lead the audience astray then secondly to settle the original dispute when it is convenient for the arguer.
 Example: Many people accuse George Bush of invading Iraq when it was not necessary; but Bush was a great president who made Americans feel safe.

Begging the Question
 Refers to the adoption of a conclusion that is really the premise of an argument.
 Usually circular in nature and simply restates the essential question of the argument or claim; it is quite redundant and offers nothing new. 

Bungee–jumping is dangerous because it is unsafe.
Batman is cool because he is awesome.
Mr. Adams should take that specific course because it is required.

Exercises: Spot the...
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