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Lecture

PP201_L5notes.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PP201
Professor
Hugh R Alcock
Semester
Fall

Description
Fallacies of Relevance There are two broad categories of fallacies we are going to look at over the next couple of weeks This week we start with the socalled fallacies of relevanceWhat is a FallacyFallacies are mistaken forms of reasoning They are types of bad argumentation in other words 1 GeneticThis involves an attempt to refute a conclusion by discrediting the origin of its source or genesisThis tactic is fallacious because the strength or plausibility of a claim does not depend on its proponents background The fact that Einstein for example was German is irrelevant visavis the strength of his theory of relativityFor exampleThere is no possibility of this Cambodian sprinter winning the 200m Olympic title His country has no history of success in this event2 Ad HominemThe mistake here is to attack the proponent of the argument rather than the argument itselfDetails about the proponent and her motives are not strictly relevant to the truth of the arguments conclusionThere are two versions of this fallacy1 An abusive ad hominemattacking the personality of the proponent2 A circumstantial ad hominemto suggest that the proponent only holds the position in question because of certain circumstances Some people oppose hunting because it is wrong to kill living things Such people are sentimental fools who are simply slaves to their emotionsSmith has argued that polytechnobabble products are carcinogenic However it is a wellknown fact that Smith owns land abutting a polytechnobabble processing plant slated for major expansion That is why he promotes this view 3 Tu QuoqueThe latin phrase tu quoque means you as well This fallacy is committed by those who point to the irrelevant fact that the proponent of an argument they oppose does not herself act on its conclusionFor exampleKapoor argues that second hand smoke can be dangerous to ones health However he frequents an office in which many people smoke He is himself a second hand smoker Therefore we cannot believe this claim he makesHow exactly is this objection fallacious4 DivisionThis involves illegitimately dividing a characteristic of a whole and applying it equally to each of its parts Certainly if a house is made of wood then its parts eg its walls are wooden but the fact that I cannot cut a stack of paper with a pair of scissors does not imply I cannot cut a single piece of paper of course
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