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Modes Of Reasoning
MODR 1770
Linda Carozza

Lecture—Fallacies of Irrelevance 4-step procedure for identifying the main fallacy in a passage 1) Identify the main issue (whether ….) 2) Identify the position being defended (conclusion) 3) Identity the support (premises) given for that position (premise = statement) 4) Identify the main fallacy (ONLY ONE) (WILL NOT REPEAT) 5) Reasons: Explain How and why An argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning - Abusive Ad Hominem (aka Attacking the Person) - basic form: X is a bad/defective person, therefore X’s argument is bad/defective - Circumstantial Ad Hominem (aka Attacking the Motive) - attacks the circumstances (interests) of the person making the argument - it suggests they have an ulterior motive, typically self-interested /selfish motive Information itself is not an argument. - Poisoning the Well (not explained well in Engel) - the common denominator among definitions in different books: trying to preclude in advance consideration of the person’s argument (keep in mind the metaphor of poisoning the well and only apply when the metaphor applies) Rejests tnd argument before the person has not made the argument yet (hasn’t started) … (linked to 1 n 2 ) - Tu Quoque (you too) - rejecting a person’s argument against you because it applies to them as well nd Eg: 1st smoker tells 2nd smoker that he should stop smoking. 2 smoker rejects argument. - Genetic Fallacy - rejecting an argument (position, institution, idea, etc.) because of how it was arrived at, or because of its origin (could also include accepting) - unlike testimony, the origin of an argument is irrelevant Eg: Rejects the argument because it came from a dream. - Appeal to Authority (authority = expert) 2 - four different kinds, but all take the same form: “Because X says it, it must be true” - Appeal to the Authority of the One - (i) where X is not an authority in that field - (ii) when the topic is one where the authorities don’t agree Eg: i) actor’s argument about war is rejected because he is not an expert in the field ii) Argument based on one expert’s view/opinion when other/not all experts do not have the same point of view. (topic on which experts disagree) - Appeal to the Authority of the Many (aka the Consensus Gentium fallacy) - the fallacy here is supposing that truth is democratic (it is not) Because most believe something does not mean it its true If the only premise is because the majority believe in something - Appeal to the Authority of the Select Few - appeals to our feeling that we’re special or our desire to be (aka Snob Appeal) Eg: Advertising: Camel filters (cigarette brand) – They’re not for everyone Fallacy/reasonInsinuating that they are only for some ‘special people’  Everyone can get them / No legitimate reason - Appeal to the Authority of Tradition - appealing to tradition in defense of a position when the situation today is different than when the tradition began, or the reasons for the tradition were not good ones in the first place - A good reason in the past might not be a good reason today Eg: (The constitutions before Canada’s independency) - Appeal to Fear (aka Argumentum ad Baculum (the big stick)) - attempt to persuade by means of a threat (the threat being the essential reason given) - only a fallacy when force is offered to convince you that something is true (i.e., a fallacy can only occur in an argument) - not a fallacy when they’re trying to get you to do something - not a fallacy when fear is mixed with reasons - Appeal to Pity - seeking to persuade not by an appeal to logic or evidence but essentially by arousing pity - again, not a fallacy when pity is mixed with reasons - Mob Appeal (mob = crowd) - using emotions to steer or stampede masses of people in the direction of a particular position or conclusion rather than appealing to evidence - BUT must have evidence that one is talking to a group of people - Appeal to Ignorance - presenting the fact that we cannot show something is false as evidence that it is true, or vice versa 3 Eg: God exists. Why? Because nobody proved that God does not exist. 4 Lecture—Fallacies of Ambiguity - different ways of ambiguity: - ambiguous vs. vague - “or” is ambiguous but not vague Birthday or not today – not both (exclusive) - aut Brother or sister – possibly both (inclusive) – vel Spontaneous abortion or miscarriage - synonymy - “rich” is vague (also ambiguous), also “large” (undetermined / arbitrary boundaries) - denotation - reference, objective - connotation - the associations (feelings, attitudes, emotions, images, thoughts) suggested by a word either to the user of the word or to the listener Eg: He is not enough man for that The Rights of Man - Fallacy of Equivocation - when the meaning of a term shifts throughout an argument Eg: If you believe in the miracles of science, then you should also believe in the miracles of the Bible. “miracles” do not have the same meaning Einstein: God does not play dice with the universe Personal God = A person Term is ambiguous. Eg: Drugs - Fallacy of Amphiboly - here the ambiguity results from poor sentence structure rather than the meaning of the terms Eg:Sadat stood aside while Mr. Carter made his brief statement and said nothing. Dr Ruth is a slut because the TV guide says: Dr Ruth will discuss sex with Dick Cavet. Fallacy: (taking advantage of a poorly written sentence) Principle of charity: in matters of interpretation, give the person the benefit of the doubt. 5 - Fallacy of Accent (Misquotation) - here the ambiguity is not the result of the meaning of the terms, or poor sentence structure, but from confusion caused by misquoting - three ways: - (i) the different tone of a remark (e.g. being straightforward or ironical) Eg: I like the dinner! I liked the dinner... I LIKED THE DINNER!!! - (ii) accenting or stressing the wrong word Eg: I liked the dinner I liked the dinner - (iii) quoting misleadingly out of context Eg: Ebert: “I liked all of the movie except the acting” Movie Ad: “Ebert: I liked all of the movie” - Fallacy of Hypostatization - attributing actual existence to something that is only a name or an abstraction Note: Do not apply this fallacy when someone uses a term metaphorically or figuratively Eg: Nature is a mean mother My car is a mean mother - Fallacy of Composition - when you assume that what is true of some or all of the parts is also true of the whole - since this is not always true, the assumption is fallacious - need to have a part-whole relationship - Note: Engel contradicts himself (p. 100 vs. p. 129) Eg:Whole: library Part: books Property: a spine All/Some of the books in the library have a spine. Therefore, the library has a spine. - Fallacy of Division - when you assume that what is true of the whole is also true of some or all of the parts - since this is not always true, the assumption is fallacious Eg: This organism is alive; therefore eac
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