HAMBLIN Charles Fallacies

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Manual de falacias

Transcript of HAMBLIN Charles Fallacies

by the same authorELEMENTARYFORMAL LOGICFallacies C. L. HAMBLINProfessor of PhilosophyUniversity of New South Wales1METHUEN& COLTDFirst published in 197 oby Methuen & co LtdII New Fetter Lane, London E C 197o C. L. HamblinPrinted in Great Britain byRichard Clay (The Chaucer Press) LtdBungqy,, S'uffo kS BN416 14570 ICONTENTSACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI. The Standard Treatment2. Aristotle's List3. The Aristotelian Tradition4. Arguments 'Ad'5. The Indian Tradition6. Formal Fallacies7. The Concept of Argument8. Formal Dialectic9. Equivocation795o891 351 77190224253283BIBLIOGRAPHY


317Distributed in the USAby Barnes & Noble Inc71426ACKNOWLEDGMENTSI have picked many colleagues' brains, but most ofthem must here be thanked anonymously. I am espec-ially indebted to Professor L. M. De Rijk for theloan of a vital microfilm; to D. D. McGibbon forhelp with Greek texts; to Fr Romuald Green formaking available his work on Obligation (which Iwish he would get round to publishing); and toProfessor Nicholas Rescher for remedying part of mydeep ignorance of the Arabs. It should be added thatA. N. Prior started the whole thing off by gettingme interested in Buridan.Dedication? To the friend who said 'I hope thetitle isn't an accurate description of the contents'.But most of all to Rita, Fiona and Julie.C.L.H.CHAPTER IThe Standard TreatmentThere is hardly a subject that dies harder or has changed so littleover the years. After two millennia of active study of logic and,in particular, after over half of that most iconoclastic of centu-ries, the twentieth A.D., we still find fallacies classified, presentedand studied in much the same old way. Aristotle's principal listof thirteen types of fallacy in his Sophistical Refutations the Latintitle is De Sophisticis Elenchis (from Greek llEp/ T6'w Z4Eurticth'y'Eltlyxcov) whence they have often been called 'sophisms', andsometimes (elenchs' still appears, usually with one or two obis-'sions and a handful of additions, in many modern textbooks oflogic; and though there have been many proposals for reform,none has met more than temporary acceptance. Such set-backs asAristotle's treatment has had have been as much due to irrelevantvicissitudes of history as to any kind of criticisms of its short-comings. Thus, although current in the ancient world in Athens,Alexandria and Rome it was 'lost' to western Europe, for somecenturies during the monastic period; but was rediscovered withenthusiasm about the twelfth century, when it began to form asection of the logic curriculum in the emerging universities.Since that time until the present century textbooks of logic notcontaining a short chapter on fallacies have been the exception;and since, for most of the period, all students took Logic, Europe'smen-of-affairs have generally regarded a nodding acquaintancewith a standard version of Aristotle's doctrine as a routinenecessity of the same character as knowledge of the multiplicationtable. Quite a few of these men, in fact, have written accountsof fallacies themselves; they include at least one Pope, two saints,archbishops in profusion, the first Chancellor of the Universityof Oxford, and a Lord Chancellor of England. The tradition hasrepeatedly proved too strong for its dissentients. Ramus, in thesixteenth century, led an attack on Aristotle and refused to con-sider fallacies as a proper subject for Logic on the grounds thatthe study of correct reasoning was enough in itself to make theirnature clear; but within a few years his own followers had re-instated the subject and one of them, Heizo Buscher, actuallypublished a treatise entitled The Theory of the Solution of Fallacies. . . deduced and explained from the logic of P. Ramus.' Bacon andLocke also dropped the Aristotelian treatment, but only to re-place it with treatments of their own which, in due course, be-came partially fused with it again. During the past century someof the more mathematically minded of logicians, starting withBoole, have dropped the subject from their books in apparentagreement with Ramus ; but it is possible to discern a trend back.What about other traditions than our own? Constantinople,in the interval between the decline of Rome and its own fall tothe Turks, continued the Greek tradition that was in declinefurther west; and some Arab logicians also inherited Aristotle'sSophistical Refutations and wrote their own commentaries on it.But these traditions were mere outposts of our own. Furthereast, we find an apparently independent logical tradition in Indiawhich, starting with the Nita sutra, has its own doctrine offallacies as an adjunct to its own theory of inference. Indianlogicians have displayed the same concern to explore the formsof faulty reasoning, and the same inability either to move outsidetheir original tradition or to dispense with it. The study of theIndian tradition is of especial interest here in providing us witha control on which to test our woollier historical generalizations.Strangely, in a certain sense, there has never yet been a bookon fallacies; never, that is, a book-length study of the subject asa whole, or of incorrect reasoning in its own right rather than asan afterthought or adjunct to something else. Schopenhauer'sArt of Controversy is too short, and Bentham's Book of Fallacies toospecialized, to qualify. Abook entitled Fallacies: a View of Logicfrom the Practical Side, by Alfred Sidgwick, belies its title and is inlarge part concerned with a particular theory of non-fallaciouslogical reasoning. The medieval treatises, though some of them1 Buscherus, De ratione solvendi sophismata (3rd edn. 1594).run to enormous length that of St Albert the Great, for ex-example, has 90,000 Latin words are mere commentaries onAristotle even when, as in the case of Peter of Spain's Treatiseon the Major Fallacies, they do not indicate the fact in their titles.And all the others, including the wordy treatment by J. S. Mill,must be counted as short treatments in longer works. (Mill isjust as wordy in the rest of his volume.) Even Aristotle's Sophis-ticalRefutations is properly only the ninth book of his Topics.There are, of course, works on fallacy of a slightly differentkind; namely, less formal works such as Thouless's Straight andCrooked Thinking, Stebbing's Thinking to Some Purpose and, per-haps, Kamiat's Critique of Poor Reason and Stuart Chase's Tyrant!),of Words and Guides to Straight Thinking, which aim to induce inthe reader an appreciation of and feeling for faulty reasoning bygiving discussions based mainly on examples. Some of thesebooks I am not going to say which are good, but they do notsupply the need for a critical theoretical survey. Into the samecategory or, perhaps, into the space between the two stools Iconsign a book entitled Fallacy the Counterfeit of Argument, by ,W. Ward Fearnside and William B. Holther. This is describedon the back cover as `5 i fallacies named, explained and illus-trated'. The gratifyingly large bag of fallacies has been arrangedin a system of categories partly resembling the traditional onesbut not, it is to be presumed, intended either as exhaustive or asnon-overlapping. These books have their place; but their placeis not here. What is needed, above all, is discussion of some un-resolved theoretical questions, which these books do not includein their terms of reference.The truth is that nobody, these days, is particularly satisfiedwith this corner of logic. The traditional treatment is too unsys-tematic for modern tastes. Yet to dispense with it, as some writersdo, is to leave a gap that no one knows how to fill. We haveno theory of fallacy at all, in the sense in which we have theories ofcorrect reasoning or inference. Yet we feel the need to ticket andtabulate certain kinds of fallacious inference-process which intro-duce considerations falling outside the other topics in our logic-books. In some respects, as I shall argue later, we are in the posi-tion of the medieval logicians before the twelfth century: wehave lost the doctrine of fallacy, and need to rediscover it. But10FALLACIESTHESTANDARDTREATMENTII12 FALLACIESit is all more complicated than that because, these days, we setourselves higher standards of theoretical rigour and will not besatisfied for long with a theory less ramified and systematic thanwe are used to in other departments of Logic; and one of thethings we may find is that the kind of theory we need cannot beconstructed in isolation from them. What I shall suggest is thatinterest in fallacies has always been, in part, misplaced in that thefunction of their study has been to remind the student (and histeacher) of features of the scope and limitations of the otherparts of Logic. What the logicians of the thirteenth and four-teenth centuries made of the study of fallacies is especiallyinteresting in this connection.This is, however, for later chapters. To start with, let us setthe stage with an account not of what went on in the thirteenthcentury, or even of what Aristotle wrote, but of the typical oraverage account as it appears in the typical short chapter orappendix of the average modern textbook. And what we find inmost cases, I think it should be admitted, is as debased, worn-out and dogmatic a treatment as could be imagined incrediblytradition-bound, yet lacking in logic and in historical sense alike,and almost withdut connection to anything else in modern Logicat all. This is the part of his book in which a writer throws awaylogic and keeps his reader's attention, if at all, only by retailingthe traditional puns, anecdotes, and witless examples of his for-bears. 'Everything that runs has feet; the river runs: therefore,the river has feet' this is a medieval example, but the modernones are no better. As a whole, the field has a certain fascinationfor the connoisseur, but that is the best that can be said for it.Afallacious argument, as almost every account from Aristotleonwards tells you, is one that