# Chapter 8 Fallacy

## 8.1 Intro examples

1. “Every other progressive nation has already adopted a program of government-provided health care; the United States likewise should abandon its outmoded system of private medicine.”

2. THE RETURN OF THE PRIVATEERS A long time ago, politicians hired private companies to do government work. They were mercenary ships, called privateers.
We know them as pirates.
Today, right here in New York State, politicians are trying to hoist the same old idea. This time around, calling it privatization.
Let them get away with it, and privateers will be loose again

3. In the constitutional struggles of the seventeenth century, the modern theory of natural law—the theory of individual rights—was eventually perfected. Stripped of the trappings which each particular theorist hung upon it, the bare theory was a simple pattern of … assumptions which, in the opinion of the men whose interests they served, were as obviously true as the axioms of Euclid. [Richard Schlatter, Private Property]

4. We should oppose any effort by government to censor obscene books, movies, or other forms of expression, no matter how offensive we may find such material. The reason is that once government has the power to ban obscenity, that precedent will open the door to further controls on speech: banning racist remarks, then speech that the majority finds offensive, then speech that opposes government policies, and so on until no one is free to say anything without government permission.

5. Society has an obligation to support the needy, because people who cannot provide for themselves have a right to the resources of the community.”

6. Grades are a crude and mechanical device that does not measure the nuances of student performance. Therefore, student work should not be graded.

## 8.2 Fallacy

• Why do we study fallacies?
• To avoid them.
• To understand good reasoning.

## 8.3 Types of fallacy

Check the List of fallacies on Wikipedia. Select a fallacy that is:

1. Of interest to you, or
2. That you have made, or
3. That you have come acrossed while preparing for your speeches and essays

Then study it and explain it to the rest of the class. Given examples.

## 8.5 Subjectivism

• Because I believe or want it to be true.

• “I was just brought up to believe in X.”

• “That may be true for you, but it isn’t true for me.”

## 8.6 Appeal to Majority

• True merely because majority believe it.

• “I oppose socialized medicine because it is inconsistent with our tradition of private medical practice.”

• “Every other progressive nation has already adopted a program of government-provided health care; the United States likewise should abandon its outmoded system of private medicine.”

## 8.7 Appeal to Emotion

• I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident—that all men are created equal.” . . . I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. [Quoted from Let the Trumpet Sound, by Stephen B. Oates]

• THE RETURN OF THE PRIVATEERS
> A long time ago, politicians hired private companies to do government work. They were mercenary ships, called privateers.
> We know them as pirates.
> Today, right here in New York State, politicians are trying to hoist the same old idea. This time around, calling it privatization.
> Let them get away with it, and privateers will be loose again

## 8.8 Appeal to Force (Argumentum ad Baculum)

• Acceptance on the basis of threats

## 8.9 Fallacies Involving Credibility

• Credibility: to accumulate and expand our knowledge.

• How do we evaluate credibility?

• In other words, X must be someone who not only knows the truth, but who also tells the truth.

## 8.10 Appeal to Authority (Argumentum ad Verecundiam)

• competent and objective

• red flag $$\neq$$ wrong

• dishonest or biased

• “you’re another”

• inconsistent with practice

• vested interest (“poisoning the well”)

## 8.13 False Alternative

1. Either you are with us or you are against us.
2. Either we reduce Social Security benefits or government spending will wreck the economy.
3. Either we increase Social Security benefits or elderly people will starve in the streets.
4. I can (a) stay with her and be unfulfilled, or (b) leave and be lonely, or (c) stay but have affairs on the side.

## 8.14 Post Hoc

• “after this, therefore because of this”

“Why are you whistling?”
“To keep the elephants away.”
“But there aren’t any elephants around here.”
“See? It works.”

## 8.15 Hasty Generalization

Some examples of generalization.

1. Water always flows downhill.
2. Large breeds of dogs have shorter life spans than smaller ones.
3. People in France are not very friendly to tourists.
4. Italians are quick-tempered.

## 8.16 Accident

• applying a generalization to a particular case.

## 8.17 Slippery Slope

1. “If you give him an inch, he’ll take a mile.”
2. The Marxist takeover in country X had “a domino effect” of inciting rebellions in neighboring countries.
3. Giving in to small temptations leads you down “the primrose path” to immorality.
4. Changing the grading standards had “a ripple effect” throughout the college.
5. The antitrust laws were “the camel’s nose in the tent” (or “the thin edge of the wedge”) leading to further government regulation of business.
6. The collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market “snowballed” into a crisis in all financial markets

We should oppose any effort by government to censor obscene books, movies, or other forms of expression, no matter how offensive we may find such material. The reason is that once government has the power to ban obscenity, that precedent will open the door to further controls on speech: banning racist remarks, then speech that the majority finds offensive, then speech that opposes government policies, and so on until no one is free to say anything without government permission.

## 8.18 Composition and Division

1. Human beings are animals.
2. Human beings evolved 100,000 years ago.

Another pair of examples.

1. American steel companies are profitable.
2. The average American steel company is profitable.

## 8.20 Begging the Question (Circular Argument)

• p, therefore p.

For example: “[l] Society has an obligation to support the needy, because [2] people who cannot provide for themselves have a right to the resources of the community.”

• circularity

## 8.21 Equivocation

[Letter] grades are a crude and mechanical device that does not measure the nuances of student performance.
Student work should not be graded [evaluated].

• metaphor
1. Some publishers censor speech by refusing to publish controversial authors.
2. Censorship violates the First Amendment.
Some publishers violate the First Amendment by refusing to publish controversial authors.

## 8.22 Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad Ignorantiam)

• a strom is brewing on Jupiter
• How to respond to unsupportment statements?
• Burden of proof

• Straw man

## 8.24 In-class relfection

Write down one fallacy you made (or you came across) in this class.

## 8.25 Quizzes

1. If we pass a law to require that guns be registered with the government, it will be easier for the government to take the next step of confiscating guns. So we must oppose gun registration now.

2. Wilson used abusive language toward the child who threw a stone at his car. Since child abuse is a crime, he should be reported to the authorities.

3. “[The classical liberals] put forward their ideas as immutable truths good at all times and places; they had no idea of historic relativity . . . The tragedy is that although these liberals were the sworn foes of political absolutism, they were themselves absolutist in the social creed they formulated.”[John Dewey, Liberalism and Social Action,pp. 33–34]

4. “White House spokesman Robert Gibbsdefended Obama’s all-out campaign for Chicago’s Olympics bid by claiming America will see a “tangible economic benefit.” But as is always the case with sports corporate welfare disguised as “economic development,” an elite few will benefit more than others.” Michelle Malkin, “All President’s Cronies Are Going For Gold,” Investors Business Daily

## 8.26 Politician and fallacy

Gallup Media Trust

Gallup Institution Trust