Medina, Ma. Beatrix D. 1Bio1
October 2, 2013 Ms. Agnes Ponsaran Homework: Informal Fallacies
What is an informal fallacy? An informal fallacy is and unreliable inference whose unreliability results from something other than its formal structure. (Rudinow & Barry, 2004) Most informal fallacies are invalid inferences because the premises are not sufficient reasons to establish a conclusion. Most of the time, its conclusions are persuasive: they have the psychological power to fool the audience into accepting the conclusion anyway. Thus, these invalid inferences are referred to as “non-sequitir” a Latin for “it does not follow”. The difference between formal and informal fallacies is: with formal fallacies, people mistake an invalid pattern for a valid one; they think that certain patterns are rules when they are not rules. With informal fallacies, on the other hand, that mistake does not happen. Rather, the mistake concerns its premises. However, there are some Informal Fallacies that result to valid inference. Their mistake is not the inference; their mistake is a defect on the premises. These are called the fallacies of presumption.
10 INFORMAL FALLACIES 1. Argumentum ad Baculum (Fallacies of Irrelevance) In Latin, this fallac y means “argument from the stick (club)”. In this argument, the arguer is making an appeal to force in a way that the arguer is opposing a threat or a promise a reward to get the listener to agree with the conclusion. This is an erroneous argument. Why? Because casual events are irrational reasons for giving consent. Consents must be based on the evidence for the correctness of what is being consented to. This argument has the structure: 1. If you do not consent to X, then Y will happen. 2. But you don’t want Y to happen. 3. So you consent to X. 4. So X is correct. Example: A rich man is threatening his girlfriend. “If you won’t marry me, the company of your father will be bankrupt; as you know, I’m the largest stockholder. So if I were you, I would gladly get this ring out of the box and put it on my finger.” 2. Argumentum ad Populum (Fallacies of Irrelevance) In Latin, this fallacy means “argument from the people.” The arguer makes an appeal to popular sentiments in an attempt to persuade the listener that the conclusion is correct. correct.
This argument is doubly erroneous. Approval of some characteristic F of a person is not a rational reason to have a general positive attitude to wards that person. And even when there is a general positive attitude towards a person, the fact has no connection to the correctness of a given view even if that view happens to be proposed by that person. This argument has the structure: 1. Person A proposes X. 2. Person A has some characteristics of F. 3. The audience approves of F. (This causes the audience to have a general positive attitude towards Person A and his proposal X) 4. Ergo, proposal X is correct. Example: Dick Gordon is a man of our nation. He became the Mayor of Olangapo City and brought peace and order not only in the streets but also in the lives of his people. He also became Secretary of Tourism and he greatly affected on the economic performance of Tourism in our country. He also became a Senator in 2004 and he is now currently the Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross. If you want to have a positive change in our country, vote him as the President. 3. Tu Quoque Fallacy (Fallacies of Irrelevance) In Latin, this fallacy means “and you (do it) too!” This type of argument discredits his opponent by pointing ou that his opponent does not even believe in his own position. So why would anyone believe in what he is saying? This is erroneous. First and foremost, a person’s actions are not reliable indicators of what a person believes and even if the opponent did not believe his own position, the position could still be correct. Such irony is highly possible. This argument has the structure: 1. Person A proposes X. 2. Person A acts contrary to X. 3. So person A does not believe X. 4. So proposal X is not correct. Example: Mary believes that a marriage lasts a lifetime. But you can not rely on what she is saying. Isn’t she a divorced woman? 4. Red Herring Fallacy (Fallacies of Irrelevance) In this type of argument, the arguer sneakily introduces an irrelevant matter to side-track the main point of the opponent. This transition is made possible by somehow relating in the digression to something that the opponent has said which produces the illusion that the digressed matter is what the argument is all about. This argument has the structure: a. Person A present proposal X.
b. Person B substitute proposal Y for X. (X and Y have some point of slightly similarity but they are different matters.) c. Proposal Y is unacceptable (acceptable) for reasons P,Q,R. d. So, proposal X is wrong. Example: Our administration strongly opposes corruption. But the pork barrel, the taxes (mone y) from the people that is given to the Congressmen and Senators is still being pushed through. And the money for the masses are being used by selfish officials. So, our country needs better programs against corruption. 5. Straw Man Fallacy (Fallacies of Misconstrual) In this type of argument, the arguer presents a distorted or exaggerated version of his opponent’s position. He proceeds to criticize the distorted version and co ncludes that the original position of the opponent has been refuted. Therefore, the distorted position is truly a straw man, having no substance and nothing, and no one to recommend it. It is highly erroneous because the distorted version and the original version are two different positions. Therefore, the reasons given for or against the one are not reasons given for or against the other. This has the structure: a. Proposal Y is a distorted version of proposal X. b. Proposal Y is unacceptable for reasons A, B, C. c. So, proposal X is wrong. Example: People who think abortion is immoral have no respect for the rights of women. Those people look at women as if they are baby-making machines. Women must have the right to choose whether to keep the baby or not. 6. Fallacy of Special Pleading (Fallacies of Misconstrual) In this type of argument, the desired conclusion is something that should be based on weighing the various pros and cons that are relevant to the case, but the arguer presents only some reasons that favor his point of view and all evidence to the contrary is just ignored. Example: I’m in dire need of this job. I need to feed my family and buy medicine for my mother who is sick. 7. Fallacy of Division (Fallacies of Miconstrual) The premises introduce a characteristic that applies to something considered as a whole, and the conclusion asserts that this characteristic, therefore, applies to the individual parts of that whole. The fallacy occurs when the characteristic in questions does not have this dual application. Example: All Muslims don’t eat pork. Jerard doesn’t eat pork. Therefore, Jerard is a Muslim.
8. Fallacy of Ad Hoc Reasoning (Fallacies of Presumption) The Latin phrase ad hoc means "for this [special purpose]." Almost any explanation could be considered "ad hoc" if we define the concept broadly because every hypothesis is designed to account for some observed event. However, the term is normally used more narrowly to refer to some explanation which is exists for no other reason but to save a favored hypothesis. This has the structure: a. X or Y (this premise falsely omits other choices) b. Not Y c. So, X Example: Mom: $500 is missing from my wallet. Son: My shorts just did a trick! I found $500 on my pocket! Mom: Wow! You have magic shorts? Maybe its trick is getting the money from my wallet and teleporting it to your shorts. 9. Slippery Slope (Fallacies of Presumption) In this argument, the consequences follow one another much like when one slides down some slippery slope: there is an inevitable sequence leading to an inevitable state. This has the structure: a. If X, then Y1,Y2,Y3,Y4 etc. b. Those results Y1,Y2,Y3, etc. are terrible things. c. So, X is wrong. Example: America shouldn’t be involved in military exercises outside of their country. Now we see them fight Middle Eastern people, next thing we know World War 3 has started! 10. False Dichotomy Fallacy (Fallacies of Presumption) It makes crucial use of a premise that asserts a false set of choices. The choices have their consequences, and so a conclusion does follow, but the assertion of choices is wrong. This typically involves a situation where the choices leave out other possibilities. Example: The mambabarang healed me from alopecia. Really? I thought you believed in the power of the “Healing”. Yes, I do but it was the mambabarang who removed my sickness. Sources: 1. vander Nat, A. (2010). Simple formal logic. (pp. 281-324). New York: Routledge. 2. Rudinow, J. & Barry, V.E.(2004). Invitation to Critical Thinking. (pp. 288 -321). California: Wadsworth