MODR 1730 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Linus Pauling, Hasty Generalization, Fallacy
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Lecture Nine: Fallacies Part Three
November 16, 2011
Fallacy Eleven: Appeal to Authority
Definition: This fallacy is committed when there is an appeal to an illegitimate authority.
When an appeal to authority does not meet the following conditions, it is considered to
be a faulty appeal to authority and therefore is a fallacy.
-There must be an identifiable field of knowledge
-The person appealed to must be an authority in that particular field
-The person appealed to must have current knowledge of information in that field
-There must be a general consensus among other experts in that field about the given
-The authority must be specifically stated
-The authority must not be in a conflict of interest
“Linus Pauling, a double Nobel prize winning chemist has argued that mega doses of
Vitamin C will increase a person’s lifespan. Surely if such a noted scientist like this
makes that claim then it must be true”
This is a fallacious argument because it violates more than one of the required criteria
for a successful appeal to authority.
-The person appealed to is not an authority in the field, which is medicine
-Therefore this person may not be up to date on all medical discoveries (although it is
possible that they are)
-There is no indication that there is a general consensus about this argument
In some cases, all the requirements may be met but not explicitly stated. This is a
difficult fallacy to detect because you have to determine what the implicit claims are as
well to determine whether or not the argument is fallacious.
Fallacy Twelve: Hasty Generalization
Definition: This fallacy is committed when a claim is made by not following the
appropriate guidelines for a valid generalization. Usually this occurs when a claim is
based on too small of a sample, a sample that is not representative of the population, or
when a generalization is made beyond the limits of the population.