Philosophy 148 Chapter 5 Fallacies: • Two categories of fallacies: • Category 1—Fallacies that have irrelevant premises. • Category 2—Fallacies that have unacceptable premises. • genetic fallacy—arguing that a claim is true or false solely because of its origin. – Example: We should reject that proposal for solving the current welfare mess. It comes straight from the Democratic Party. • composition—arguing that what is true of the parts must be true of the whole. – Example: The atoms that make up the human body are invisible. Therefore, the human body is invisible. • division—arguing that what is true of the whole must be true of the parts. – Example: This machine is heavy. Therefore, all the parts of this machine are heavy. • appeal to the person (or ad hominem, meaning “to the man”)—rejecting (or accepting) a claim by citing the person who makes it rather than anyhting about the claim itself. – Example: We should reject Chen’s argument for life on other planets. He dabbles in the paranormal. • Types: Personal attack Accusation of inconsistency Tu quoque Circumstances Poisoning the well Appeal to Authority • equivocation—the use of a word in two different senses in the same argument. – Example: Only man is rational. No woman is a man. Therefore, no woman is rational. • appeal to the masses/popularity—arguing that a claim must be true merely because a substantial number of people believe it. – Example: Of course the war is justified. Everyone believes that it’s justified. • appeal to tradition—arguing that a claim must be true just because it’s part of a tradition. – Example: Acupuncture has been used for a thousand years in China. It must work. • appeal to ignorance—arguing that a lack of evidence proves something. This often shifts the appropriate burden of proof – Examples: – No one has shown that ghosts aren’t real, so they must be real. – No one has shown that ghosts are real, so they must not exist. • appeal to emotion—the use of emotions as premises in an argument. – Example: You should hire me for this network analyst position. I’m the best person for the job. If I don’t get a job soon my wife will leave me, and I won’t have enough money to pay for my mother’s heart operation. Come on, give me a break. – • red herring—the deliberate raising of an irrelevant issue during an argument. – Example: Every woman should have the right to an abortion on demand. There’s no question about it. These anti- abortion activists block the entrances to abortion clinics, threaten abortion doctors, and intimidate anyone who wants to terminate a pregnancy. • straw man—the distorting, weakening, or oversimplifying of someone’s position so it can be more easily attacked or refuted. – Example: Senator Kennedy is opposed to the military spending bill, saying that it’s too costly. Why does he always want to slash everything to the bone? He wants a pint-sized military that couldn’t fight off a crazed band of terrorists, let alone a rogue nation. • begging the question (or arguing in a circle)—the attempt to establish the conclusion of an argument by using that conclusion as a premise. – Example: God exists. We know that God exists because the Bible says so, and we should believe what the Bible says because God wrote it. • false dilemma—asserting that there are only two alternatives to consider when there are actually more than two. – Example: Look, either you support the war or you are a traitor to your country. You don’t support the war. So you’re a traitor. – • slippery slope—arguing, without good reasons, that taking a particular step will inevitably lead to a further, undesirable step (or steps). – Example: We absolutely must not lose the war in Vietnam. If South Vietnam falls to the communists, then Thailand will fall to them. If Thailand falls to them, then South Korea will fall to them. And before you know it, all of Southeast Asia will be under communist control. • hasty generalization—drawing a conclusion about a whole group based on an inadequate sample of the group. – Example: The only male professor I’ve had this year was a chauvinist pig. All the male professors at this school must be chauvinist pigs. • faulty analogy—an argument in which the things being compared are not sufficiently similar in relevant ways. – Example: Dogs are warm-blooded, nurse their young, and give birth to puppies. Humans are warm-blooded and nurse their young. Therefore, humans give birth to puppies too.
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