fallacy

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Description of Fallacies

In order to understand what a fallacy is, one must understand what an argument is. Very briefly, an argument consists of one or more premises and one conclusion. A premise is a statement (a sentence that is either true or false) that is offered in support of the claim being made, which is the conclusion (which is also a sentence that is either true or false).

There are two main types of arguments: deductive and inductive. A deductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) complete support for the conclusion. An inductive argument is an argument such that the premises provide (or appear to provide) some degree of support (but less than complete support) for the conclusion. If the premises actually provide the required degree of support for the conclusion, then the argument is a good one. A good deductive argument is known as a valid argument and is such that if all its premises are true, then its conclusion must be true. If all the argument is valid and actually has all true premises, then it is known as a sound argument. If it is invalid or has one or more false premises, it will be unsound. A good inductive argument is known as a strong (or “cogent”) inductive argument. It is such that if the premises are true, the conclusion is likely to be true.

A fallacy is, very generally, an error in reasoning. This differs from a factual error, which is simply being wrong about the facts. To be more specific, a fallacy is an “argument” in which the premises given for the conclusion do not provide the needed degree of support. A deductive fallacy is a deductive argument that is invalid (it is such that it could have all true premises and still have a false conclusion). An inductive fallacy is less formal than a deductive fallacy. They are simply “arguments” which appear to be inductive arguments, but the premises do not provided enough support for the conclusion. In such cases, even if the premises were true, the conclusion would not be more likely to be true.

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Index

  1. Ad Hominem
  2. Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
  3. Appeal to Authority
  4. Appeal to Belief
  5. Appeal to Common Practice
  6. Appeal to Consequences of a Belief
  7. Appeal to Emotion
  8. Appeal to Fear
  9. Appeal to Flattery
  10. Appeal to Novelty
  11. Appeal to Pity
  12. Appeal to Popularity
  13. Appeal to Ridicule
  14. Appeal to Spite
  15. Appeal to Tradition
  16. Bandwagon
  17. Begging the Question
  18. Biased Sample
  19. Burden of Proof
  20. Circumstantial Ad Hominem
  21. Composition
  22. Confusing Cause and Effect
  23. Division
  24. False Dilemma
  25. Gambler’s Fallacy
  26. Genetic Fallacy
  27. Guilt By Association
  28. Hasty Generalization
  29. Ignoring A Common Cause
  30. Middle Ground
  31. Misleading Vividness
  32. Personal Attack
  33. Poisoning the Well
  34. Post Hoc
  35. Questionable Cause
  36. Red Herring
  37. Relativist Fallacy
  38. Slippery Slope
  39. Special Pleading
  40. Spotlight
  41. Straw Man
  42. Two Wrongs Make A Right

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