Government 2305 Houston Community College NW, Professor M. Tiller, Fallacies

APPEAL TO FORCE
Also called appeal to fear, it is an argument based on coercion alone. That is, power–rather than reasoning–determines the outcome. The most common response to such an argument is: “might does not make right”.
ABUSIVE AD HOMINEM
A personal attack on the opponent, rather than the ideas the opponent advocates.
CIRCUMSTANTIAL AD HOMINEM
An appeal to prejudices and unfair stereotypes about the circumstances, or background, of the opponent, instead of the opponent’s argument. Most forms of racism, sexism, and other prejudices fall into this category.
APPEAL TO IGNORANCE
also called the fallacy of negative proof, it assumes that because an argument cannot be disproved, it must be true. Just because one cannot provide evidence that proves the speaker wrong does not make the speaker’s argument valid.
APPEAL TO PITY
An attempt to use the audience’s sympathy, concern, or possibly even guilty feelings about an unfortunate situation to overwhelm or suspend their logical reasoning.
APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE
The rationalization that if most people believe it, it must be true.
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APPEAL TO AUTHORITY
an argument based on the unstated reasoning or opinion of a supposed expert. Of course, there is nothing wrong with citing authorities, which may offer good advice, but it is also essential that the argument itself be explained. That is, in this fallacy, the speaker gives us only the authority’s conclusion, without a premise we can question. The speaker is essentially using the authority’s conclusion as his premise. This would be acceptable only if the authority’s premise was also given. One might question the credentials of purported experts, but whether the authority is really knowledgeable or wiseis not the primary issue. The fallacy lies in the failure of the speaker to actually provide the audience with an argument that can be critically examined.
FALLACY OF ACCIDENT
Inappropriately applying a general rule to a particular case, not allowing for the exceptional case.
FALLACY OF CONVERSE ACCIDENT
overgeneralization; assuming that one case (or a few) explains the whole, or that what is true for a part is true for the whole. It is fallacious to create a general rule from one or a few cases because they may happen to be “accidents” (exceptional cases), i.e. not typical of the norm.
BEGGING THE QUESTION
In most cases circular reasoning; using the conclusion to support a premise upon which the conclusion relies. In such arguments, there is no real premise, since it is really just a repeat of the conclusion. In other words, it prompts the listener to beg for the premise–the rationale for the conclusion.
FALLACY OF FALSE CAUSE
also called the post hoc fallacy, it incorrectly attributes a causal relationship–either because two events seem to occur at roughly the same time, or because one event follows another. In the first case the assumption of co-variation confuses cause and effect–both events might be effects of one or separate causes, rather than one causing the other. In the second case, the assumption that the second event is dependent uponthe first is fallacious without proof. Even if the two are related, the conclusion may not be completely explained by the given premise.
FALLACY OF THE COMPLEX QUESTION
A question which cannot be answered yes or no, because it assumes hostile premises that have not yet been proven.
IRRELEVANT CONCLUSION
Offering a conclusion which is not germane (relevant) to the original premise. It is often a convincing premise, or a widely accepted fact, but it has nothing to do with the speaker’s conclusion. Like a “red herring,” or a “slippery slope” argument, it diverts attention away from the real issue.
IRRELEVANT CONCLUSION
“You say there is no money in the budget for a state monument to honor Texas’ veterans? Yes, there is! They honorably served their country and they deserve a monument!”
IRRELEVANT CONCLUSION
“This concept of affirmative action is a dangerous idea. American corporations are not competitive in Japan.”
IRRELEVANT CONCLUSION
“Texas needs new sources of tax revenue, so I really don’t think a lottery would attract organized crime or encourage addictive gambling.”
FALLACY OF THE COMPLEX QUESTION
“Are you going to continue to cover up the Attorney General’s investigation?”
FALLACY OF THE COMPLEX QUESTION
“Why are you voting for that cultural exchange program with the Chinese? Do you want them to come over here and brainwash our youth with their communist propaganda?”
FALLACY OF THE COMPLEX QUESTION
“When it becomes clear that your tax estimates are unrealistic, will they be revised then?”
FALLACY OF FALSE CAUSE
“Had we not built the B-1B bomber, Soviet leader Gorbachev would not have begun the process of economic andpolitical reform.”
FALLACY OF FALSE CAUSE
“The Governor ruined our economy. Before he took office, the petroleum industry was booming. Just look at it now.”
FALLACY OF FALSE CAUSE
“Since the 1973 Roev. Waderuling, which upheld abortion rights, there has been a great increase in reported child abuse. Therefore, the Supreme Court is responsible.”
BEGGING THE QUESTION
“The reason there’s so many reports in the press about ethics and scandals is because the media is focusing on this issue.”
BEGGING THE QUESTION
“Clearly, Iran is anti-American because they are hostile to U.S. interests and positions.”
BEGGING THE QUESTION
“It is the duty of the United States to promote freedom around the world because we are obligated to support liberty.”
FALLACY OF CONVERSE ACCIDENT
“My sister knows a legislator, and she told me about him. Politicians are all a bunch of crooks!”
FALLACY OF CONVERSE ACCIDENT
“If each and every interest group successfully promotes its agenda (gets what it wants), the whole country will be well-served, since interest groups represent all segments of society.”
FALLACY OF CONVERSE ACCIDENT
“There will be no revolution; the people of this country are perfectly content with the way things are. I know, because I play polo with some of them every Sunday on my day off from the embassy.”
FALLACY OF ACCIDENT
“He is a Anglo Protestant millionaire investor, so I assume he is a Republican.”
FALLACY OF ACCIDENT
“Judge Free ruled against the AmericanCivil Liberties Union? That’s impossible; I’ve watched him for years, and I know he is a great civil libertarian.”
FALLACY OF ACCIDENT
“I don’t believe that people in Kuwait are rich, because I hear all of the time how poverty-stricken the Third World countries are.”
APPEAL TO AUTHORITY
“We don’t need more police stations. The mayor said just last week that we have enough.”
APPEAL TO AUTHORITY
“I don’t care what your textbook says. President Reagan said the ‘iron triangle’ included Congress, special interests, and the press.”
APPEAL TO AUTHORITY
“Why? Because I’m the judge, and I said so.”
APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE
“The Speaker is a criminal. According to a recent poll, 91% of the public said he broke the law.”
APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE
“You are so naive! Everyone knows the death penalty deters murders.”
APPEAL TO THE PEOPLE
“That party’s platform is nonsense. Last election, none of their candidates won more than 3% of the vote.”
APPEAL TO PITY
“What do you mean, ‘we should reform the social security system’? Don’t you care about those poor, lonely, old people, living on fixed incomes?”
APPEAL TO PITY
“Well, it’s true that I took the bribe, but it’s not like I’m a criminal, because I had a drinking problem at the time.”
APPEAL TO PITY
“No, we don’t need an investigation of the director for the homeless shelter program. These charges about fraud and corruption are being made by people who have no idea how terrible it is to be cold and hungry on the street!”
APPEAL TO IGNORANCE
“The Trilateral Commission, Europeanbankers, and international communists are plotting and planning to conquer the world. Sure you haven’t heard about it–it’s a secret conspiracy!”
APPEAL TO IGNORANCE
“I support the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) program because I’m sure we can overcome any technical difficulties with it; it’s only a matter of time until it’s perfected. How do you know it won’t be?”
APPEAL TO IGNORANCE
“If the President was telling the truth, then why did he refuse to take a lie-detector test?”
CIRCUMSTANTIAL AD HOMINEM
“Judge Rebel is an old born-and-raised Southerner, so I knew his ruling would not be fair.”
CIRCUMSTANTIAL AD HOMINEM
“No, we shouldn’t place women in combat, but I’m not surprised that you think that, since you’re a woman.”
CIRCUMSTANTIAL AD HOMINEM
“I don’t agree with his campaign proposals–he’s just a rich lawyer who thinks he can buy a legislative seat.”
ABUSIVE AD HOMINEM
“I don’t agree that Senator Fogbottom’s tax plan will increase revenues, because he is a cowardly wimp who always gives in to pressure from stupid welfare activists.”
ABUSIVE AD HOMINEM
“What does he know about infant malnutrition? From the size of his belly, I would guess he’s never been hungry!”
ABUSIVE AD HOMINEM
“Sure, I’ll listen to your proposal for a state income tax–as soon as you learn how to balance your checkbook.”
APPEAL TO FORCE
“If you don’t vote for the Chair’s bill, he will never let any of your bills out of his committee.”
APPEAL TO FORCE
“Those terrorists better wise up and see things our way, if they don’t want us to bomb them.”
APPEAL TO FORCE
“The moral superiority of the Allied powers was proven by their victory over the Central Powers in WWI.”