A member of parliament once charged that in the house of commons that the federal Department of Health and
Welfare has been co-operating with the Kellogg Company in permitting the sale of a cereal which, she alleged,
contained “little or no nutritional value.” Marc Lalonde, who was then Minster of Health, seeking to rebut the
“As for the nutritional value of corn flakes, the milk you have with your corn flakes has great nutritional value.”
1. The milk that one has with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has great nutritional value.
1.a. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has significant nutritional value
Empirical Claims Include
Personal sensory observations
“The text that I am reading is printed on white paper”
General Knowledge based on the observations of others
“Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 47 B.C.”
Generalizations based upon many observations
“All swans are white.”
Theoretical knowledge of empirical and factual testimony of experts
“Scientists believe that AIDS is not one single virus, but several kinds of virus.”
The world was created by a wise and kind god.
Every person has in his heart the capacity to be a murderer.
Abusive Ad Hominem: Example
The most recent occurrence of recent years is all these knuckleheads running around protesting nuclear power –
all these stupid people who do not research at all and who go out and march, pretending they care about the
human race, and then go off in their automobiles and kill one another.
Circumstantial ad hominem
The officer in command of the West Coast naval detachment has argued of an increase in the personnel
under his command and the addition of new equipment. He has presented a detailed case with statistics
that seem to show that he needs these in order to fulfill his mandate. In response, his challenger replies
that this is all a smoke screen; the officer's real motive is to increase his own importance and stature in
the military. Therefore, his argument should be rejected.
The challenger seeks to discredit the officer by pointing to his personal reasons for advancing his arguments
and suggesting he has personal stake in the outcome. This is intended to discredit his arguments. However,
the arguments themselves have not been addressed. A basic principle of rational dispute is that we evaluate
claims on the basis of evidence given in them, not on the characteristics of the person offering the claim
Tu Quo Que Fallacy:
Father: Owen, I really don’t think that you should be drinking. Alcohol tends to dull your senses, reduces
your physical control, and may even becoming psychologically addicting.
Son: That not a very convincing argument, Dad, when you’re standing there with that glass of Merlot your
Analysis : Although it may be tempting for Owen to point out to his father the apparent inconsistency
between what he is saying and what he is doing; the proper action is to assess the merits of his father’s
argument. The father’s failure to practice what he preaches does not neutralize the argument.
Poisoning the Well
You’re not a woman, so anything you might say about abortion is of no significance. Anyone who disagrees with our position is (a) obviously repressed; a running-dog lackey of the capitalist
imperialist warmongers; (c) a male chauvinist; (d) an irrational women’s libber; (e) an uptight prude; (f0 a
foe of the family; (g) a friend of big business; and so on.
You’re not going to wear a wedding ring, are you? Don’t you know that the wedding ring originally symbolized
the ankle chains worn by women to prevent them from running away from their husbands? I would not have
thought you would be a party to such a sexist practice.”
“Astrology is true. It originated with the ancient Babylonians and has existed for centuries.”
P1: Since wedding rings were originally symbols of ankle chains placed upon women by their husbands,
P2: and the symbol means the same thing now as it did then,
P3: and such actions would constitute a sexist practice,
C: Therefore, one who follows this practice now is engaging in a sexist practice.
Appeal to Authority Fallacies
Don Cherry, a noted hockey announcer, appears as a spokesperson for a leading auto insurance company,
claiming that it has the lowest rates in the industry
Analysis: This is a faulty appeal to authority. Auto insurance rates can be a field of knowledge about which
someone could be an authority. Don Cherry may be an expert on hockey, but he is not an expert on auto
insurance rates. His support is based on his own personal experience. (Saindon, p. 122-124, Study guide.)
Appeal to Fear
“I don’t’ think it would be wise to run a story on my son’s driving escapades. After all, my firm does
thousands of dollars of advertising business with your paper”
[P1] My firm does thousands of dollars of advertising business with your newspaper.
*P2+ If you run a story on my son’s driving escapes, I will withdraw that advertising business.
*P3+ You don’t want to lose my advertising dollars.
*C+ You shouldn’t run the story on my son’s escapades.
I have a good reason why the mill workers should not go on strike. If they strike again, I shall close the mill and
go back to England, where workers do not strike.
It is wrong to believe there will a slump in business next year. Such prophesies are self-fulfilling.
Don’t argue with me. Remember who pays your salary.
Dear Editor, I hope you will agree that this little escapade by my son has no real news value. I know you’ll
agree that my firm buys thousands of dollars worth of advertising space in your paper every year
-All loyal Americans will deplore the passage of this bill.
Appeal to pitty
Nicole, I really think that you ought to take Larry to the spring dance next Friday. He hasn’t had a date all
year. In fact, he has never been invited to go to any dance. Have you ever thought what it might be like
to sit alone in your room every time there is a campus dance, while all your friends are doing what you’d
like to be doing?
P1:Since Larry is sad and lonely,
P2: because he hasn’t had a date all year nor has he been invited to a dance before,
P3: (and no one has asked him to the spring dance),
P4: (and he would like to go to that dance)
P5: (and Nicole is available and not taking any other person yet),
C: Therefore, Nicole should take Larry to the spring dance.
I need an ‘A’ to get into law school; I know that I didn’t show up for class and turned in only some of my
assignments, but if I don’t get into law school, my parents will be heartbroken, and my father, who has
serious heart condition, will be terribly crushed