Arguments and Fallacies English 2 Honors
Definition of Argument • Consists of one or more premises • Premise: a statement( either true or false) that is offered in support of the claim being made • 2 types of arguments: 1) deductive and 2) inductive • Deductive argument: the premises provide (or appear to provide) complete support for the conclusion • Inductive argument: the premises provide (or appear to ) some degree of support, but less than complete support, for the conclusion
Fallacies: errors in reasoning • Inductive argument example: premise 1: Most American cats are domestic house cats. Premise 2: Bill is an American cat. Conclusion: Bill is an American house cat. • Factual error example: Columbus is the capital of the United States. • Deductive fallacy example: premise 1: If Portland is the capital of Maine, then it is in Maine. Premise 2: Portland is in Maine. Conclusion: Portland is the capital of Maine. (Augusta is the capital of Maine )
Fallacies, cont. • Inductive fallacy example: premise: Having just arrived in Ohio, I saw a white squirrel. Conclusion: All Ohio squirrels are white.
Emotional Fallacies • Sentimental appeals: tug at the audience’s heartstrings in order to get them to ignore the facts. • Red herring: attempts to distract an audience by shifting attention away from an important issue. • Scare tactics: frightens people into agreeing by threatening them or predicting horrible consequences.
Emotional Fallacies, cont. • Bandwagon appeal: encourage an audience to agree because everyone else is doing it. • Slippery slope: arguments predict enormous consequences from relatively minor causes. • Either/Or choices: these reduce complicated issues to only 2 possible courses of action. (sometimes involve scare tactics and slippery slope)
Ethical Fallacies • False authority: asking an audience to agree simply based on his/her character • Dogmatism: not allowing discussion by asserting that the writer/speaker’s belief is the only acceptable ones • Moral equivalence: compares minor problems with more serious crimes or vice versa. Ex: “These speed bumps are like something from Nazi Germany.”
Ethical fallacies, cont. • Ad Hominem: arguments attack a person’s character rather than reasoning through issues.
Logical Fallacies • Hasty generalization: draws conclusions from little evidence. Ex: “I wouldn’t eat at that restaurant. The only time I ate there, my food was undercooked.” • Faulty Causality: confuses chronology with causation. One event can occur after another without being causes by it. Ex: “A month after release of the violent video game, school violence tripled.”
Logical Fallacies, cont. • A Non Sequitur (Latin for “it doesn’t follow”): a statement that doesn’t logically relate to what comes before. An important logical step may be missing. Ex: “If those protesters really loved their country, they wouldn’t question the government.” • Equivocation: a statement that is partially correct but purposefully obscures the full truth. • Begging the question: assumes that the proposition which requires proof is assumed without proof.
Logical Fallacies, cont. • A faulty analogy: an inaccurate, inappropriate, or misleading comparison between 2 things. Ex: “How is a raven like a writing desk? Because Poe wrote on both.”