Fallacies (A few common ones)

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Transcript of Fallacies (A few common ones)

  • 1. Much of the material contained here comes from the text Social Problems and the Quality of Life, 12th ed., by Lauer and Lauer 1

2. Dramatic Instance Retrospective Determinism Misplaced Concreteness Personal Attack Appeal to Prejudice Circular Reasoning Fallacy of Authority Fallacy of Composition Fallacy of Non Sequitur 2 3. Using one or two cases to support and entire argument. The tendency to overgeneralize. Argument is based partly on fact. Exceptions do exist to generalized statements. The need for systematic studies to see if specific instances can be generalized. 3 4. Blaming the victim as in the case of poverty or racial stereotypes. Taking such stereotypes and generalizing based upon one or two instances. The argument that people on welfare are ripping off the rest of us. 4 5. Arguing that one event was caused by another event merely because it occurred after that event. 5 6. Every severe recession follows a Republican Presidency; therefore Republicans are the cause of recessions." Accidental generalizations need not always be causal relations. Mere succession in time is not enough to establish causal connection. E.g., consider "Since hair always precedes the growth of teeth in babies, the growth of hair causes the growth of teeth. 6 7. Slippery slope is when you take one known fact and extrapolate it to an unrealistic extreme. It avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead shifts attention to extreme hypotheticals. Because no proof is presented to show that such extreme hypotheticals will in fact occur, 7 8. Straw man is when you set up the opposing side to look unreasonable by misrepresenting what they actually stand for. 8 9. Animal rights activists believe that we shouldn't keep animals captive and make them do our will. They would have you abandon your pets in the wilderness. 9 10. Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex couples to marry, then the next thing we know we'll be allowing people to marry their parents, their cars and even monkeys. 10 11. Things could not have worked out any other way. What happened historically had to happen that way. If you view the past in terms of determinism you have little reason to study it. It is an acceptance of the inevitable. It can relieve you of responsibility and can legitimize a lack of concern. 11 12. Go back through history, its traditional, theres no special reason, no cause for it. We cant get away from it. It has just always been this way. 12 13. An argument made by attacking the opponent personally rather than dealing with the issue. 13 14. Regarding attitudes towards poverty, many blame the poor for their plight. People who are not poor are relieved of responsibility. Government efforts to alleviate poverty are blamed for perpetuating it. 14 15. Using conclusions to support the assumptions that were necessary to make the conclusions. 15 16. An argument is made that certain minorities are inherently inferior (to the majority) and that their inferiority is evident because they hold only menial jobs. One may reply that this is because of discrimination in hiring. Then the retort is that they could not be hired for superior jobs anyway because they are simply inferior. 16 17. The illegitimate appeal to authority. An argument by an illegitimate authority. The authority may be an expert in a field that has nothing to do with the issue. The authority may be a celebrity, but not a legitimate authority. 17 18. A television or movie star making claims about the value of a product. He/she may not have any knowledge of the product in question. A first rate physicist is not necessarily an expert on race relations. His/her expertise is misplaced. Also the authority may be pursuing a bias. Example is a corporate head arguing against government regulation of such a corporation. 18 19. The assertion that what is true of the part is true of the whole. Assuming that what is true for the individual is true for the group. 19 20. Seeing one or two homeless people who appear unwilling to work may cause you to assume this is true for all or most of the homeless. This is not necessarily true. 20 21. Something that does not follow logically from what has preceded it. Commonly found when people attempt to interpret statistical data. 21 22. Our product is so good, it was even given away in celebrity gift bags. (Maybe true but not logically certain. # 22