Class Notes (837,289)
Canada (510,219)
Philosophy (1,795)
PHI1101 (485)

Chapter 8 - Fallacies

9 Pages
Unlock Document

Iva Apostolova

PHI 1101 - Chapter o8 Fallacies Monday, November 18, 2013 - A fallacy is any error in reasoning Five Fallacies of Relevance - Fallacies in this group involve premises that are not relevant to the conclusion they are meant to support Appeal to Ignorance (Ad Ignorantiam) - If we do not know something, then the point is often an important one to observe - The fallacy is based on the assumption that a statement must be true if it cannot be proven false, or vice-versa - The problem arises with the attempts to infer from the fact that we do not know the claims, the conclusion that they are either true or false - Instead of collecting evidence, we jump to conclusion - Different kinds of evidence: does not have to be a “scientific” one 1. We do not know that statement S is true 2. Therefore, statement S is false - Examples: o That we cannot disprove the existence of ghosts, is not enough evidence to say that ghosts exist o The fact that the Bush administration could not prove that Saddam Hussain did not have weapons of mass destruction was insufficient evidence to say that Saddem had them o Not knowing something is not the same as knowing something  Not knowing could just be that you are lacking tools/materials to reason something (meaning it is not “nonexistence”) while knowing something you have evidence/solid proof - “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!” – Carl Sagan, Astronomer - If we don’t know that something exists, if doesn’t mean that it doesn’t; it only means we don’t known one way or the other! - Premises (nothing is known about X) -> conclusion( something known about it) - Examples: o Belief in reincarnation is unwanted, since no one can definitely demonstrate that the soul can enter another body and come back on Earth o It’s clear that God doesn’t exist because science hasn’t proved that he does Successful Arguments: - Concluding that my keys are actually not on my desk is a fair conclusion if I had fully looked over my desk. Then we can say that something is not there. - If you believe that it that UN weapons inspectors could completely scour a whole country for WMDs and they did not find them, then we could successfully conclude that Saddam did not have them. - When a thorough investigation into the subject matter is completed we may, indeed, be able to draw that conclusion - There are many different kinds of authorities - Just because someone is knowledgeable in one field does not mean they are necessarily an expert in another field - Arguer cites unqualified authority… jump to conclusion - Examples: o John Lennon was against the Vietnam war. So, it must have been a big mistake.  John Lennon is a singer o Michael Jordan thinks that Nike makes the best shoes. Buy some today.  Michael Jordan should know about good shoes, he’s a professional athlete and advice not be what you need - Caution: there are cases when the appeal to authority is relevant. There are two conditions that allow the use of authority for our arguments: 1. We lack the information and experience and we cannot obtain it directly by ourselves to make a reasonable decision 2. The authority in question is entitled to this status on the matter (ex. Doctors, lawyers, etc.) Appeal to Popularity (Ad Populum) - This fallacy confuses morality with popularity - Because something is normal by no means makes it objectively right - It also confuses epistemological (truth) claims with what Is common or generally accepted (common sense) - Plato vs. Democracy - Majority rules just means that what is popular is made legitimate, legal - But this is independent of whether the popular opinion is actually correct, right, or true - Fallacy plays upon an apparent human desire to be part of groups - Arguer appeals to the audience’s insecurity - Examples: o Thousands of students protested the bombing of Afghanistan. Perhaps you ought to rethink your support of the administration on this.  Although it was terrible, it is not a good argument to say thousands of people supported it o The vast majority of Canadians were against the war in Iraq. How could you suppor ti then?  That is not the way to prove/argue for it Gambler’s Fallacy: - Fallacy confuses particular experience with general, objective, laws - Watchwords: o Due o Ready o Ripe o Immanent, etc - Gambler should refer to general rule, instead Gambler refers to personal experience - Draws the conclusion that his luck is DUE - All based on luck or thought to be based on the law of nature Two Fallacies of Inadequate Evidence - Fallacies in this group are arguments with premises that present relevant but inadequate evidence False Cause: - Post hoc ergo propter hoc – means, “After this, therefore because of this” - Form: A came before B A caused B - Eighteenth-century philosopher David Hume isolated the problem of causation as a problem of induction. Thus, causation can never be proven. o Couldn’t prove the fact that when a rock is thrown, the window will always shatter… But one out of a million times, it won’t - Hume’s arguments can be summarized thus: 1. Only deductive arguments can demonstrate their conclusion 2. Inductive arguments, or arguments from experience, are deductively valid 3. Inductive arguments, or arguments from experience, cannot demonstrate their conclusion - Premises dependent on non-existent causal connection -> conclusion - Examples: o Paul had bacon and eggs and three pancakes for breakfast. Then he took the SAT exam. He scored in the top 20%. I’m so proud of him. That just goes to show you everyone should eat a big meal before an exam! o The Dallas group held a rain dance at the Turtle Creek fountain Sunday night, and the group leader Debra Denton claimed it got results. “It rained, didn’t it?” she asked Monday. o Whenever the team is on a winning streak coach Saunders wears the same time to each game. We won the last three games, so Coach Sanders’ lucky tie must be working!  Examples are all based on superstition - The best defence against a false cause is repeated, uninterrupted events that seem to “cause events” observed many times - Hume called causation nothing more than the experience of “constant conduction” Hasty (Inductive) Generalization: - The sample is hopelessly inadequate, so that the inference from the sample to the population is not reliable - Often the generalization is based on an exceedingly small sample of cases- sometimes only one or two - Simple generalizes too quickly. CF. Stereotyping - Specific cases (not representative) -> generalization -> general rule - Examples: o You should buy a Dell computer. They’re great. I bought one last year, and it has given me nothing but flawless performance. o The French are snobby and rude. Remember those two high-and-mighty guys with really bad manners? They’re French, I rest my case. o Psychology majors are incredibly ignorant about human psychology. Believe me; I know what I’m talking about. My best friend is a psychology major. What an ignoramus!  Stereotyping Four Fallacies of Illegitimate Assumption - Fallacies in this group are tied together by the fact that each invokes some illegitimate assumption False Dilemma (False Alternative): - Involves a failure of imagination, failure to consider one or more real possibilities - Attempts to frame the argument using unacceptable parameters - Fools the reader of listener because it follows a valid argument form- the disjunctive syllogism: Either P or Q -> Unacceptable Narrow premise Not P Q - Either or argument- not given any other option- or presented with an alternative option that is incredibly undesirable - Examples: o New Hampshire state motto: live free or die o If you don’t know Bob Dylan, your knowledge of music is inadequate o American: love it or leave it (written at the U.S.- Mexico border) o We must legalize drugs. We either legalize them or pay a heavy toll is lives and
More Less

Related notes for PHI1101

Log In


Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.