Logical Fallacy Hunt:
Consider all you read on current media platforms. We all encounter logical/argument fallacies all the time. We are virtually bombarded with fallacies. For this assignment: Google logical/argument fallacies and find at least ten fallacies not provided in this lesson-seriously, there are so many. You do not need to write those down, this part of the assignment is for your own edification. When you have completed your internet search, write a short essay regarding which of the fallacies you believe we encounter the most in current mediums and are the most important for people to understand.
Sorry there is a lot of reading, this is some context provided by the professor with this assignment.
Most academic writing tasks require you to make an argument—that is, to present reasons for a particular claim or interpretation you are putting forward. You may have been told that you need to make your arguments more logical or stronger. And you may have worried that you simply aren’t a logical person or wondered what it means for an argument to be strong. Learning to make the best arguments you can is an ongoing process, but it isn’t impossible: “Being logical” is something anyone can do, with practice. Each argument you make is composed of premises (this is a term for statements that express your reasons or evidence) that are arranged in the right way to support your conclusion (the main claim or interpretation you are offering). You can make your arguments stronger by:
- using good premises (ones you have good reason to believe are both true and relevant to the issue at hand),
- making sure your premises provide good support for your conclusion (and not some other conclusion, or no conclusion at all),
- checking that you have addressed the most important or relevant aspects of the issue (that is, that your premises and conclusion focus on what is really important to the issue), and
- not making claims that are so strong or sweeping that you can’t really support them.
You also need to be sure that you present all of your ideas in an orderly fashion that readers can follow. See our handouts on argument and organization for some tips that will improve your arguments. This handout describes some ways in which arguments often fail to do the things listed above; these failings are called fallacies. If you’re having trouble developing your argument, check to see if a fallacy is part of the problem. It is particularly easy to slip up and commit a fallacy when you have strong feelings about your topic—if a conclusion seems obvious to you, you’re more likely to just assume that it is true and to be careless with your evidence. To help you see how people commonly make this mistake, this handout uses a number of controversial political examples—arguments about subjects like abortion, gun control, the death penalty, gay marriage, euthanasia, and pornography. The purpose of this handout, though, is not to argue for any particular position on any of these issues; rather, it is to illustrate weak reasoning, which can happen in pretty much any kind of argument. Please be aware that the claims in these examples are just made-up illustrations—they haven’t been researched, and you shouldn’t use them as evidence in your own writing. What are fallacies? Fallacies are defects that weaken arguments. By learning to look for them in your own and others’ writing, you can strengthen your ability to evaluate the arguments you make, read, and hear. It is important to realize two things about fallacies: first, fallacious arguments are very, very common and can be quite persuasive, at least to the casual reader or listener. You can find dozens of examples of fallacious reasoning in newspapers, advertisements, and other sources. Second, it is sometimes hard to evaluate whether an argument is fallacious. An argument might be very weak, somewhat weak, somewhat strong, or very strong. An argument that has several stages or parts might have some strong sections and some weak ones. The goal of this handout, then, is not to teach you how to label arguments as fallacious or fallacy-free, but to help you look critically at your own arguments and move them away from the “weak” and toward the “strong” end of the continuum. Two Types of Fallacies: Two competing conceptions of fallacies are that they are false but popular beliefs and that they are deceptively bad arguments. These we may distinguish as the belief and argument conceptions of fallacies. Academic writers who have given the most attention to the subject of fallacies insist on, or at least prefer, the argument conception of fallacies, but the belief conception is prevalent in popular and non-scholarly discourse. As we shall see, there are yet other conceptions of what fallacies are, but the present inquiry focuses on the argument conception of fallacies. Being able to detect and avoid fallacies has been viewed as a supplement to criteria of good reasoning. The knowledge of fallacies is needed to arm us against the most enticing missteps we might take with arguments—so thought not only Aristotle but also the early nineteenth century logicians Richard Whately and John Stuart Mill. But as the course of logical theory from the late nineteenth-century forward turned more and more to axiomatic systems and formal languages, the study of reasoning and natural language argumentation received much less attention, and hence developments in the study of fallacies almost came to a standstill. Until well past the middle of the twentieth century, discussions of fallacies were for the most part relegated to introductory level textbooks. It was only when philosophers realized the ill fit between formal logic, on the one hand, and natural language reasoning and argumentation, on the other, that the interest in fallacies has returned. Since the 1970s the utility of knowing about fallacies has been acknowledged (Johnson and Blair 1993), and the way in which fallacies are incorporated into theories of argumentation has been taken as a sign of a theory’s level of adequacy (Biro and Siegel 2007, van Eemeren 2010).In modern fallacy studies it is common to distinguish formal and informal fallacies. Formal fallacies are those readily seen to be instances of identifiable invalid logical forms such as undistributed middle and denying the antecedent. Although many of the informal fallacies are also invalid arguments, it is generally thought to be more profitable, from the points of view of both recognition and understanding, to bring their weaknesses to light through analyses that do not involve appeal to formal languages. For this reason it has become the practice to eschew the symbolic language of formal logic in the analysis of these fallacies; hence the term ‘informal fallacy’ has gained wide currency.
Here is a list of examples, not to be used in the assignment listing ten but for examples.
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