From Aristotle | Some Modern Catagories | Appeals

Fallacies-From Aristotle *

1. Conclude an argument, as if at the end of a reasoning process, without having gone trough the process.
2. Play on illogical, fortuitous similarity of words. ("A sauce pan must be noble, for so was the great god Pan.")
3. Make a statement about he whole that is true only of individual parts, or vice versa.
4. Use indignant language.
5. Use a single, unrepresentative example.
6. Take the accidental as essential.
7. Argue from consequence.
8. Argue post hoc, ergo propter: that A caused B because A happened before B.
9. Ignore crucial circumstances.
10. Suggest, from fraudulent confusion of general and particular that the improbable is probable or vice versa.

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Fallacies-Some Modern Categories

1. Non sequiter (from the Latin: "it does not follow"): conclusions or generalizations do not follow from the premise.

2. Equivocation: using a term with two or more meanings or referents.

3. Undistributed middle term: a link in the logic of the chain of arguments is not supplied:

a. All Communists are people
All Americans are people
Therefore, all Americans are Communists

4. Conclusion from two negative premises: two negative premises establish no connection between the terms, so a conclusion cannot be drawn:

a. No planets are suns
No planets are satellites
Therefore, no satellites are suns

5. Either/or fallacy (aka false dilemma): presents a situation as binary when there are other possibilities.

a. from a billboard: "Do you want a dead end life, or do you want to go to college?"

6. Affirming the consequent: occurs in deductive reasoning that starts with a hypothetical proposition where a conclusion is drawn that takes the hypothetical as true:

a. If he makes concessions to the Russian ambassador, the prestige of the U.S. will decline.  The prestige of the U.S. has declined, so he must have made concessions.

7. Faulty generalization: found in cause-effect inferences.  Occurs when an inadequate cause is assigned to an effect, alternate causes for the same effect are ignored, the situation in which the cause effect is ignored (it must be demonstrated that the relation holds in a given situation).

8. Faulty analogy: the analogy does not hold; all analogies are vulnerable to this charge, because they are only similar to the situation by nature, but some are more vulnerable, particularly if they overlook pertinent, significant dissimilarities.

9. Begging the question (petitio principii (from the Latin: "request + beginning") or circular reasoning): the conclusion is assumed in the premise:

a. Any man who is honest will not steal
My client is honest
Therefore, my client would not steal

b. "God exists"
"How do you know?"
"The Bible says so."
"Why should I believe the Bible"
"It's the inspired word of God"

10. Ad Hominem (meaning "to the man"): attacks the character of the opponent rather than his or her argument.

11. Ad Populum (meaning "to the people"): appeals to prejudices of the audience rather than the merits/flaws in the opponent's argument: playing on fears, for example.

12. Red herring (ignoratio elenchi "ignorance of the refutation): concentrating on an irrelevant side issue to distract the audience from the main argument.

a. "You accuse me of cheating on my income tax, but doesn't everybody cheat a little bit?"

13. Complex question (loaded question): Question that combines two or more so it cannot be answered without acceding to an assumption:

a. "When did you stop beating your wife?": this cannot be answered without accepting the embedded assertion that the person to whom it is addressed is a wife beater.

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These are methods of persuasion that can be fallacious, especially if the weight of the argument rests solely on one of these appeals.  However, they can be part of a valid argument.

1. Ethical appeal: appealing to the character of the speaker to verify the veracity of an argument (or the converse)
2. Emotional appeal: appealing to the emotions of the audience (see Ad Populum above)
3. Appeal to tradition: advocating perpetuating some activity because it has a history of being done: "we should keep doing this because we've always done it"

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* Adapted from Rhetoric book II ch 24.
Adapted from Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, 4th ed., edited by Edward Corbett and Robert Connors.