To quote the awesome american band Poison “every rose has it’s thorn”. Philosophy isn’t any different, metaphorically speaking. The thorns in the sweet smelling rose of philosophy is the logical fallacy. So lets take a sniff of the rose, breathe deep, and learn to try to avoid the poke of the fallacy. By the way, Poke of the Fallacy would make a great punk band name, okay, anyway that’s an aside. Lets get to work!
Philosophy has an obligation to critically evaluate known facts; the test of truth is a critical key-stone of philosophy. Without valuating a premise, or base claim, of an argument how are we to come to a sound and logical conclusion of the same valuation? If you wish, see my last blog about assessing validity and soundness of an argument by looking at the logical workings of a the premise and conclusion within an argument’s form.
Professor Rodriguez (a.k.a. The Profess) has revealed to us, the good students, a link to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s list of 213 most common fallacies. Ten fallacies have been chosen for us to review – I’m so grateful it’s only 10 and not all 213! Below is a list of those ten particular fallacies.
Give your own, original examples for the following ten fallacies, plus two of your own choice.
Begging the Question
Argument from ignorance
The following answers appear in successive order relative to the numbered fallacies above.
- Begging The Question: Cats and dogs are treated the same. However, cats are not supposed to play with balls, only dogs are supposed to play with balls because they are dogs.
- Ad Hominem: That man’s mathematical logic must be ill. He married another person like himself, he must be terrible at mathematics!
- Equivocation: Nancy said she was a liberated woman, most liberated people are socialists. Communists are socialists, they’ve been know to torture in the name of liberation. Nancy must support torture.
- Slippery Slope:If one hangs out with people that ride motorcycles they might start doing crime, join a gang, sell drugs and cause trouble – it all leads to anarchy and the state will fall apart.
- Straw Man: Man A: “Violent jihad is killing our country-men. It is a threat to us. All people who subscribe to the Muslim religion must be banned from our country because jihad comes from Muslims.” Man B: “But not all people who ascribe to the Muslim faith believe in violent jihad, or violence in general, they don’t support it. So why ban them all?” Man A: “Because only Muslims commit violent jihad.”
- Tu Quoque: “If my dentist lies to his patients, then I too can lie to my doctors!”
- Non-sequitur: A high I.Q. can be a trait for an intelligent person. Jim Parsons plays an intelligent person on T.V., he and all actors who play intelligent people must have very high I.Q.’s!
- False Dichotomy: “Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” – G. W. Bush, Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People, September 20, 2001.
- Argument from Ignorance: “Any type of life does not exist anywhere in the Universe because there is no proof that it does.” “Philosophy is resoundingly a woman because there is no proof that philosophy is not a literal woman.”
- Red Herring: “In order to fix our immigration issue we need to build a wall along the borders of our country. We need to acquire more specialized taxes to do this, there we will focus all of our attention to designing new tax laws for building things – like special walls.”
- Group Think: “My team – the Falcons – won the state championships title four years in a row! No one else is better than us, everyone thinks so, they’re all inherently inferior because they are not the Falcons. It’s the truth!”
- Tokenism: “Of course the organization supports women and equal pay, we have a woman in the mail room, she is paid the same as our other woman.”
The above are my examples of the ten listed fallacies but there are many many more of those thorny little ‘things’. Those ten in themselves gave me a lot to think about in regards to what I say and how I think and to think there are two-hundred and thirteen listed on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s page of Fallacies. Does anyone know how many fallacies there are? That would be something to know but that is definitely for another time and blog.
Knowing about fallacies can be used as a reference for every day evaluation, not just critical evaluation and not just for philosophical evaluation. In my opinion, knowing the fallacies and how they operate can help one build a better question for learning about the world around you. It’s a proverbial icing to the proverbial question cake, it can make your question cake richer (and maybe even tastier).
Okay, I just poured myself a beer. You know it’s said at the bottom of every beer there is an answer to everything or maybe some things. I’m going to put this to the test and figure out if this is a fallacy or not, wish me luck! Ha!
Lastly, I dedicate this Poison song to thorny fallacies on the side of the philosophical rose.