Intro to Fallacies

Your textbook has a good list of fallacies beginning on page 352. This is a good place to start researching for your fallacy project. More details will be provided on Monday.

Here is an example of a fallacy used to persuade.

Why do we say this is a fallacy?

Key Terms

  • Argument: A conclusion together with the premises that support it.
  • Premise: A reason offered as support for another claim.
  • Conclusion: A claim that is supported by a premise.
  • Valid: An argument whose premises genuinely support its conclusion.
  • Unsound: An argument that has at least one false premise.
  • Fallacy: An argument that relies upon faulty reasoning.
  • Booby-trap: An argument that, while not a fallacy itself, might lead an inattentive reader to commit a fallacy.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Fallacies

This is a great resource for further reading on fallacies and how they are not so simple. The article lists 223 of the most common fallacies.

I do not expect you to know them all or to never use any. Fallacies are controversial. We appreciate logic and honesty in Western rhetorical thinking and that is at odds with many fallacies.

Fallacies are not necessarily wrong, they work very well and are very good at persuading people. Fallacies are considered unethical and so we try to avoid them. They are thought of as flaws in thought, tricks, and sneaky uses of persuasion to convince others.

Media and Fallacies

Foodstamp fraud case study

We read the foodstamp fraud case study for today. Let’s see if we can figure out why the authors call BS and what fallacies Fox “News” are using.

Emotional Fallacies (Pathos)

Scare Tactics – Scaring people and exaggerating dangers. Also known as fear mongering.

Scare Tactic Fallacy example.

Either-or Choices / False Dichotomy – Oversimplification to only two choices.

Slippery Slope – Exaggerating the consequences of an action.

Sentimental Appeals – Excessive emotion intended to distract.

Bandwagon Appeals – Follow the path of everyone else.

Start Gathering Data

  • Begin gathering the data for your review essay.
  • Decide on what you want to review.
  • Pick the one or two texts for your review.
  • Locate a scholarly source to support and help with your analysis.

Ethical Fallacies (Ethos)

False Authority – Offering yourself or other authorities as sufficient evidence.

Dogmatism – persuade by assuming a position based in biblical passages.

Dogmatism Fallacy example

Moral Equivocation – suggesting that serious wrongdoings do not differ from minor ones.

Ad Hominem (At the person) – Attacks directed at character instead of the claims or argument.

Logical Fallacies (Logos)

Hasty Generalizations – conclusions drawn from insufficient evidence. Jumping to conclusions. The most common fallacy you will encounter.

Hasty Generalization example

Faulty Causality – assuming because one event happened after another, the first causes the second.

Begging the Question – a form of circular logic. an argument based on claims that cannot be accepted as true.

Equivocation – the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth or to avoid committing oneself.

Non Sequitur – an argument in which claims, reasons, or warrants fail to connect logically.

The Straw Man – Misrepresenting an argument in order to knock it down. Arguing something that is not really there.

Faulty Analogy – An extended comparison that is inaccurate or inconsequential.

Red Herring – Partway through an argument, the arguer goes off on a tangent, raising a side issue that distracts the audience from what’s really at stake. Often, the arguer never returns to the original issue.