To: All Msg #128, May2593 06:22AM Subject: A few more fallacies. I've recently finished Da
From: Jim Perry
To: All Msg #128, May-25-93 06:22AM
Subject: A few more fallacies...
Organization: Decision Support Inc.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jim Perry)
I've recently finished David Hackett Fischer's _Historians' Fallacies_
(long on my reading list but only recently got around to it). This
book is essentially a long catalogue of fallacies, specifically
addressed at historians (the subtitle is "Toward a Logic of Historical
Thought"). While there are plenty of fallacy lists out there, there
comes a point of diminishing returns in compiling lists of identified,
named fallacies. Fischer discusses about 120, all interesting, but
most either already covered in the FAQ or relatively specific to
historiography (to the extent that history is a discussed here, the
principles are sound and worth a read though).
The final section of the book lists more general fallacies (ad
hominem, etc.), and three of them caught my eye wrt alt.atheism, and I
thought them worth proposing for the FAQ, or at least posting. Two
are endemic in this newsgroup, and the third is to keep us honest.
Aside from the capitalized headings in the style of the FAQ, these are
quoted from Fischer. I have in mind examples for each of these, but
have for now just posted the bare description.
FALLACY OF QUIBBLING
The *fallacy of quibbling* is a form of equivocation which involves two
or more people in a single argumentative exchange. It occurs whenever
the meaning of a term is changed as it changes hands, with a resultant
The *black-or-white fallacy* is a form of error which occurs in the
misconstruction of vague terms--i.e. terms such as hot and cold, light
and dark, good and bad, free and unfree, and right-wing and left-wing.
There is no firm and fixed criterion for distinguishing between hot
and cold, no sharp line which separates these two words, but an area
of doubt between them.
The *fallacist's fallacy* consists in any of the following false
1. An argument which is structurally fallacious in some respect is
therefore structurally fallacious in all respects.
2. An argument which is structurally false in some respect, or even in
every respect, is therefore substantively false in its conclusion.
3. The appearance of a fallacy in an argument is an external sign of
its author's depravity.
4. Sound thinking is merely thinking which is not fallacious.
5. Fallacies exist independent of particular purposes and assumptions.
Jim Perry email@example.com Decision Support, Inc., Matthews NC
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