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The following arguments contain various...
The following arguments contain various kinds of fallacies. Evaluate each and identify the fallacy using the matching list on the last page.
Submitted: 12 years ago.Category: Homework
1. We can recognize that athletes that participate in sports must be given special consideration within our grading system, or we can let the university sink into athletic oblivion.
2. I don't know what colleges are teaching these days! I have just received a letter of application from a young man who graduated from the state university last June. It was a wretched letter--badly written, with elementary errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The state university does not deserve the tax support that it is getting.
3. All right-thinking people will support the Board of Education's decision to destroy novels in the school libraries that are offensive to the moral standards of the community. If there were an epidemic of typhoid, the health authorities would be expected to do everything in their power to wipe it out. Pornography is worse than typhoid, since it corrupts the minds and morals of the young, not just their bodies. The school board is to be applauded for their prompt action in wiping out this moral disease.
4. Despite endless efforts, no one has been able to prove that God exists; we may just as well stop trying and accept the truth: there is no God.
5. Alicia started gaining more weight than ever when she started taking Slimdown; the stuff must be fattening!
6. No sensible person would support the Equal Rights Amendment. If it were to pass, we would have women in combat and unisex bathrooms. Eventually, we would not even be able to tell the women from the men!
MATCHING LIST Each argument commits only one fallacy, and each fallacy is only used once.
a. False analogy ARGUMENT FROM ANALOGY or FALSE ANALOGY. An unsound form of inductive argument in which an argument relies heavily on a weak analogy to prove its point. Example: This must be a great car, for, like the finest watches in the world, it was made in Switzerland.
b. Appeal to authority Ad verecundiam or APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. This fallacy tries to convince the listener by appealing to the reputation of a famous or respected person. Oftentimes it is an authority in one field who is speaking out of his or her field of expertise. Example: Sports stars selling cars or hamburgers. Or, the actor on a TV commercial that says, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."
c. Post hoc ergo propter hoc POST HOC, ERGO PROPTER HOC. (“After this, therefore caused by this.”) A form of the false cause fallacy in which it is inferred that because one event followed another it is necessarily caused by that event. Example: Mary joined our class and the next week we all did poorly on the quiz. It must be her fault.
d. attacking the person Ad hominem or ATTACKING THE PERSON. Attacking the arguer rather than his/her argument. Example: John's objections to capital punishment carry no weight since he is a convicted felon. Note: Saying something negative about someone is not automatically ad hominem. If a person (politician for example) is the issue, then it is not a fallacy to criticize him/her.
e. Two wrongs TWO WRONGS MAKE A RIGHT. This fallacy is committed when we try to justify an apparently wrong action by charges of a similar wrong. The underlying assumption is that if they do it, then we can do it too and are somehow justified. Example: Supporters of apartheid are often guilty of this error in reasoning. They point to U.S. practices of slavery to justify their system
f. Non sequitur NON SEQUITUR. (“It does not follow.”) In this fallacy the premises have no direct relationship to the conclusion. This fallacy appears in political speeches and advertising with great frequency. Example: A waterfall in the background and a beautiful girl in the foreground have nothing to do with an automobile's performance.
g. Equivocation EQUIVOCATION. This fallacy is a product of semantic ambiguity. The arguer uses the ambiguous nature of a word or phrase to shift the meaning in such a way as to make the reason offered appear more convincing. Example: We realize that workers are idle during the period of lay-offs. But the government should never subsidize idleness, which has often been condemned as a vice. Therefore, payments to laid off workers are wrong.
h. False dilemma FALSE DILEMMA (often called the either/or fallacy or false dichotomy). This fallacy assumes that we must choose one of two alternatives instead of allowing for other possibilities; a false form of disjunctive syllogism. Example: “America, love it or leave it.” (The implication is, since you don’t love it the only option is to leave it).
i. Black and white (slippery slope) SLIPPERY SLOPE. A line of reasoning that argues against taking a step because it assumes that if you take the first step, you will inevitably follow through to the last. This fallacy uses the valid form of hypothetical syllogism, but uses guesswork for the premises. Example: We can't allow students any voice in decision making on campus; if we do, it won't be long before they are in total control.
j. Hasty generalization HASTY GENERALIZATION. A generalization accepted on the support of a sample that is too small or biased to warrant it. Example: All men are rats! Just look at the louse that I married.
k. Contrary-to-fact hypothesis CONTRARY TO FACT HYPOTHESIS. This fallacy is committed when we state with an unreasonable degree of certainty the results of an event that might have occurred but did not. Example: If President Bush had not gone into the Persian Gulf with military force when he did, Saddam Hussein would control the world's oil from Saudi Arabia today.
l. Ad ignorantium Ad verecundiam or APPEAL TO AUTHORITY. This fallacy tries to convince the listener by appealing to the reputation of a famous or respected person. Oftentimes it is an authority in one field who is speaking out of his or her field of expertise. Example: Sports stars selling cars or hamburgers. Or, the actor on a TV commercial that says, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."
m. Appeal to emotion APPEAL TO EMOTION. In this fallacy, the arguer uses emotional appeals rather than logical reasons to persuade the listener. The fallacy can appeal to various emotions including pride, pity, fear, hate, vanity, or sympathy. Generally, the issue is oversimplified to the advantage of the arguer. Example: In 1972, there was a widely-printed advertisement printed by the Foulke Fur Co., which was in reaction to the frequent protests against the killing of Alaskan seals for the making of fancy furs. According to the advertisement, clubbing the seals was one of the great conservation stories of our history, a mere exercise in wildlife management, because "biologists believe a healthier colony is a controlled colony."