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So what's wrong with my argument? (IV)

 © 2010 by Jensen dG. Mañebog

INFORMAL FALLACIES > Miscellaneous Fallacies

The following types of invalid arguments do not fall under the fallacies of relevance, presumption, and ambiguity, but are nonetheless considered informal fallacies.

Self-contradiction

It involves submitting an argument which carries contradictory or inconsistent premise(s).

            The doctor cured the incurable disease.

Remember that an inconsistent premise can never produce a necessarily true conclusion.

False Analogy

In a false analogy, one erroneously presupposes that because two things are alike in one aspect, they must be alike in others.

In His will to gather the children of Jerusalem together, the Lord Jesus Christ, said, “… I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” (Mt. 23:37)

Preacher: Therefore, Jesus Christ, like a real hen, must have (physical) wings.

Through analogy, Christ indeed compared His attempt to gather the children of Jerusalem together to the effort of a hen in gathering her chicks under her wings. In that sense, Jesus and a hen are alike. But to conclude that Jesus is a hen in his state of being is not only obviously erroneous but also is funny and weird.

Analogies can be an effective means of illustrating a point, but they are not proof. Hence, if one for instance has satisfactorily explained the doctrine called Trinity by analogy to a 3-in-1 shampoo or anything else, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that he has proven that the doctrine is biblical.

Black or White

Also called false dichotomy, either or fallacy,bifurcation, and false dilemma, the black or white fallacy arises when one limits the options to two, oftentimes between the extremes, when in fact there are more.

            Either learn how to speak English fluently or you won’t be able to get any job after college.

Although learning how to speak English fluently is necessary, many occupations do not require it.

Fallacy of Significance

This fallacy is usually an attempt to mislead or deceive. This is also called statistical fallacy and is committed when one concludes based on the statistics or evidences presented without questioning how they are gathered or how “significant” they are to the issue.

According to a certain survey, 385 of the 500 respondents say they would like Mr. Crisostomo to be the next mayor in our town. Therefore, the majority of our voters would vote for him should he decide to run for the position.

In this argument, whether or not the evidence is adequate depends. In a town of 5,000, the 500 citizens are a ten-percent sample, perhaps enough for the purposes of survey for election. But in a town of 60,000 residents, the respondents would amount to less than one percent of the total number of residents, an insufficient sample on which to base a conclusion regarding the possible election result.

Whether or not the evidence is representative again depends. We would believe that the survey presents representative sample if we knew that it was thoroughly constructed to reflect the sex, age, race, civil status, job, religion, and income of the town’s populace as a whole.

Quoting Out of Context

This is another fallacy committed very commonly especially by advocacy writers. Consider this example.

            In a religious magazine, a non-Protestant writer has written this about Protestantism:

"Protestantism holds that no church can bring us to eternal life. Faith alone is necessary for salvation."

            Another writer, however, interprets and quotes the author this way:

"He (the first writer) himself believes in what Protestantism proposes. In his article he wrote, thus:

“’Faith alone is necessary for salvation…’”

The first writer is misquoted here. True, he wrote the statement, “Faith alone is necessary for salvation”. However, the context where the quote appears clearly shows that by that statement, he is just presenting what Protestantism claims—not what he believes in.

 The Straw Man Fallacy

A person commits this when he construes someone’s arguments on a given matter in such a way as to make him most susceptible to attack and criticism. Commonly, it is done by reducing a complex argument to an exaggeratedly simple form, thereby leaving out some of its important components.

e.g. A debater arguing against the legalization of abortion says: "The only possible justification its proponents can give for legalizing abortion is that the present laws against it cannot be absolutely enforced."

The debater’s argument is deceiving because no one claims that any law can be absolutely enforced.

NON SEQUITOR

            It is essential to remember always that validity is the condition of an argument in which when the premise(s) is/are true, the conclusion cannot be false (always true). In a valid argument, the truth of the premise(s) necessitate(s) the truth of the conclusion, in other words, the conclusion necessarily follows from the premise(s). Logically speaking, all invalid or fallacious arguments have one thing in common: their conclusions do not follow from their premises. It is therefore not wrong to call all kinds of fallacious argument non-sequitor, which means ‘it does not follow.’

*Further commentaries, notes, discussions, etc. are available at the Wall/Notes/Discussion Board of the site's Facebook accounts: OurHappySchool.com, Eskwelahan Nating Masaya, and Ourhappyschool Editors

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How to cite this article:
“So what’s wrong with my argument? (IV)” @ www.OurHappySchool.com
 
Activity:
1. Give an original example for each of the informal fallacies discussed.
 
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