To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Frog Argument file Date: Fri, 1 May 9
From: Crunchy Frog
Subject: Re: Frog Argument file
Date: Fri, 1 May 92 18:48:52 PDT
In article <email@example.com.ORG> you write:
> As a great fan of condensed education, I request you shoot this off for
> the Bay Area Skeptics BBS filebase.
Can you give this to them? (Note, the "I" in these is not me, it is the
person who compiled these).
These are the basic logical fallacies, informal and formal. They are drawn
from several sources. The informal fallacies are more likely to be useful,
especially when you are debating with someone else. If you learn the
fallacies and become fluent in them you will be able to quickly spot
the use of logical fallacies in someone else's reasoning, or even your
own! Note: A fallacy is a deceptive, false, or misleading argument,
notion, belief, etc.
The fallacies listed here are from a hypercard shareware stack that I
have put together.
The basic format of this list (and of the stack), is (1) the formal
name of the fallacy (usually its Latin name), followed by (2) a description
of the fallacy.
LIST OF LOGICAL FALLACIES:
Description: A Fallacy of Ambiguity, where the ambiguity arises
from the emphasis (accent) placed on a word or phrase.
AFFIRMATION OF THE CONSEQUENT
Description: An argument from the truth of a hypothetical
statement, and the truth of the consequent to the truth of the
antecedent. In the syllogism below, P is the antecedent and Q
is the consequent:
P implies Q
Q is true <-- Affirming the consequent ______________
Therefore: P is true
Description: An argument in the course of which at least one
term is used in different senses. Also known as equivocation.
There are several types of "fallacies of ambiguity," including
REIFICATION, EQUIVOCATION, AMPHIBOLY, COMPOSITION, DIVISION,
Description: A type of Fallacy of Ambiguity where the ambiguity
involved is of an "amphibolous" (equivocal, uncertain) nature.
Amphiboly is a syntactic error. The fallacy is caused by
faulty sentence structure, and can result in a meaning not
intended by the author. "The department store now has pants for
men with 32 waists." (How many waists do you have? I have only
ARGUMENTUM AD ANTIQUITAM
Description: A fallacy of asserting that something is right or
good simply because it is old; that is, because "that's the way
it's always been."
ARGUMENTUM AD BACULUM
Description: An argument that resorts to the threat of force to
cause the acceptance of the conclusion. Ad baculum arguments
also include threats of fear to cause acceptance (e.g., "Do
this or you'll go to Hades when you die!" or "Might makes
ARGUMENTUM AD CRUMENAM
Description: Fallacy of believing that money is a criterion of
correctness; that those with more money are more likely to be
ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM
Description: An argument that attempts to disprove the truth of
what is asserted by attacking the speaker rather than the
speaker's argument. Another way of putting it: Fallacy where
you attack someone's character instead of dealing with salient
issues. There are two basic types of ad hominem arguments: (1)
abusive, and (2) circumstantial.
ARGUMENTUM AD IGNORANTIAM
Description: An argument that a proposition is true because it
has not been shown to be false, or vice versa. Ad ignorantium
arguments are also known as "appeals to ignorance." This
fallacy has two forms:
1. P is true, because it has not been proven false.
2. P is false, because it has not been proven true.
ARGUMENTUM AD LAZARUM
Description: A fallacy of assuming that because someone is poor
he or she is sounder or more virtuous than one who is
wealthier. This fallacy is the opposite of the informal
fallacy "argumentum ad crumenam."
ARGUMENTUM AD MISERICORDIAM
Description: An argument that appeals to pity for the sake of
getting a conclusion accepted.
ARGUMENTUM AD NAUSEUM
Description: The incorrect belief that an assertion is more
likely to be true the more often it is heard. An "argumentum
ad nauseum" is one that employs constant repetition in
asserting a truth.
ARGUMENTUM AD NOVITAM
Description: A fallacy of asserting that something is more
correct simply because it is new or newer than something else.
Or that something is better because it is newer. This type of
fallacy is the opposite of the "argumentum ad antiquitam"
ARGUMENTUM AD NUMERAM
Description: A fallacy that asserts that the more people who
support or believe a proposition then the more likely that that
proposition is correct; it equates mass support with
ARGUMENTUM AD POPULUM
Description: An argument that appeals to the beliefs of the
multitude (i.e., the "populace"). Another way of putting it:
Speaker deals with passions of audience rather than with
salient issues. This fallacy is also known as "Appeal to
Tradition" Ad populum arguments often occur in (1) propaganda,
(2) demagoguery, and (3) advertising.
ARGUMENTUM AD VERECUNDIAM
Description: An argument in which an authority is appealed to
on matters outside his/her field of authority. "Ad
verecundiam" also refers to a fallacy of simply resorting to
appeals to authority.
BEGGING THE QUESTION (CIRCULAR REASONING)
Description: An argument that assumes as part of its premises
the very conclusion that is supposed to be true. Another way
of saying this is: Fallacy of assuming at the onset of an
argument the very point you are trying to prove. The fallacy
is also sometimes referred to as "Circulus in Probando." This
Fallacy is also known by the Latin "PETITIO PRINCIPII".
Description: Also referred to as the "black and white" fallacy,
bifurcation is the presentation of a situation or condition
with only two alternatives, whereas in fact other alternatives
exist or can exist.
Description: An argument in which one assumes that a whole has
a property solely because its various parts have that property.
Composition is a type of Fallacy of Ambiguity.
CONVERTING A CONDITIONAL
Description: If P then Q, therefore, if Q then P.
CUM HOC ERGO PROPTER HOC
Description: A fallacy of correlation that links events because
they occur simultaneously; one asserts that because two events
occur together they are causally related, and leaves no room
for other factors that may be the cause(s) of the events. This
fallacy is similar to the "post hoc" fallacy.
DENIAL OF THE ANTECEDENT
Description: An argument in which one infers the falsity of the
consequent from the truth of a hypothetical proposition, and
the falsity of its antecedent.
P implies Q
Description: An argument in which one assumes that various
parts have a property solely because the whole has that same
property. Division is a type of Fallacy of Ambiguity.
Description: An argument in which an equivocal expression is
used in one sense in one premise and in a different sense in
another premise, or in the conclusion. Equivocal means (1) of
uncertain significance; not determined, and (2) having
different meanings equally possible. Equivocation is a type of
Fallacy of Ambiguity. The opposite of equivocation is
"unovocation," in which a word always carries the same meaning
through a given context.
FALLACY OF INTERROGATION
Description: The question asked has a presuppostion which the
answerer may wish to deny, but which he/she would be accepting
if he/she gave anything that would count as an answer. Any
answer to the question "Why does such-and-such happen?"
presupposes that such-and-such does indeed happen.
Description: An analogy is a partial similarity between the
like features of two things or events on which a comparison can
be made. A false analogy involves comparing two things that
are NOT similar. Note that the two things may be similar in
superficial ways, but not with respect to what is being argued.
HASTY GENERALIZATION (SECUNDUM QUID)
Description: An argument in which a proposition is used as a
premise without attention given to some obvious condition that
would affect the proposition's application. This fallacy is
also known as the "hasty generalization." It is a fallacy that
takes evidence from several, possibly unrepresentative, cases
to a general rule; generalizing from few to many. Note the
relation to statistics: Much of statistics concerns whether
or not a sample is representative of a larger population. The
larger the sample size, the better the representativeness.
Note also that the opposite of a hasty generalization is a
Description: An argument that is supposed to prove one
proposition but succeeds only in proving a different one.
Ignoratio elenchi stands for "pure and simple irrelevance."
Description: A syllogistic argument in which a term is
distributed in the conclusion, but not in the premises. One of
the rules for a valid categorical syllogism is that if either
term is distributed in the conclusion, then it must be
distributed in the premises. There are two types of Illicit
Process: Illicit Process of the Major Term and Illicit Process
of the Minor Term.
PLURIUM INTERROGATIONUM-MANY QUESTIONS
Description: A demand for a simple answer to a complex question.
NON CAUSA PRO CAUSA
Description: An argument to reject a proposition because of the
falsity of some other proposition that seems to be a
consequence of the first, but really is not.
Description: An argument in which the conclusion is not a
necessary consequence of the premises. Another way of putting
this is: A conclusion drawn from premises that provide no
logical connection to it.
Description: Same as "Begging the Question" The argument
assumes its conclusion is true but DOES NOT SHOW it to be
true. Petitio principii has two forms:
1. P is true, because P is true.
2. P is true, because A is true. And A is true because B is true.
And B is true because P is true.
POST HOC, ERGO PROPTER HOC
Description: An argument from a premise of the form "A preceded
B" to a conclusion of the form "A caused B." Simply because
one event precedes another event in time does not mean that the
first event is the cause of the second event. This argument
resembles a fallacy known as a Hasty Generalization.
Description: An argument of the syllogistic form in which there
occur four or more terms. In a standard categorical syllogism
there are only three terms: a subject, a predicate, and a
Description: A fallacy when irrelevant material is introduced
to the issue being discussed, such that everyone's attention is
diverted away from the points being made, and toward a
different conclusion. It is not logically valid to divert a
chain of reasoning with extraneous points.
Description: To reify something is to convert an abstract
concept into a concrete thing. Reification is a Fallacy of
Ambiguity. Reification is also sometimes known as a fallacy
SHIFTING THE BURDEN OF PROOF
Description: The burden of proof is always on the person making
the assertion or proposition. Shifting the burden of proof, a
special case of "argumentum ad ignorantium," is a fallacy of
putting the burden of proof on the person who denies or
questions the assertion being made. The source of the fallacy
is the assumption that something is true unless proven
Description: Special pleading is a logical fallacy wherein a
double standard is employed by the person making the assertion.
Special pleading typically happens when one insists upon less
strict treatment for the argument he/she is making than he or
she would make when evaluating someone else's arguments.
Description: It is a fallacy to misrepresent someone else's
position for the purposes of more easily attacking it, then to
knock down that misrepresented position, and then to conclude
that the original position has been demolished. It is a
fallacy because it fails to deal with the actual arguments that
one has made.
Description: Also known by the Latin term "DICTO SIMPLICITER",
a Sweeping Generalization occurs when a general rule is applied
to a particular situation in which the features of that
particular situation render the rule inapplicable. A sweeping
generalization is the opposite of a hasty generalization.
TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT (TU QUOQUE)
Description: Two wrongs never add up to a right; you cannot
right a wrong by applying yet another wrong. Such a fallacy is
a misplaced appeal to consistency. It is a fallacy because it
makes no attempt to deal with the subject under discussion.
Description: A syllogistic argument in which the middle term of
a categorical syllogism is not distributed in at least one of
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank