Hypothesis Contrary to Fact

Hypothesis Contrary to Fact - Hypothesis Contrary to Fact...

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Hypothesis Contrary to Fact Description: From a statement of fact, the argument draws a counterfactual claim (i.e. a claim about what would have been true if the stated fact were not true). The argument falsely assumes that any state of affairs can have only one possible cause. Examples: "I taught you logic. So, if I hadn't taught you logic, you never would have learned logic at all." --paraphrased from Max Schulman's "Love is a Fallacy" "In this country citizens are permitted to own guns. Therefore, if guns were outlawed, citizens would be unable to protect themselves and there would be an uncontrollable crime wave." Discussion: We know that actions have consequences. We are able to speculate about the consequences of our actions because there is a real causal connection between how we act and how things turn out. We avoid certain actions because we are able to understand those causal connections. Wise choices require an awareness of consequences and an ability to reason hypothetically about them. It is perfectly good reasoning to say, "I didn't turn left because, if I had turned left I would have gotten lost." This means, of course, that we can speculate on how matters might have turned out differently if we had acted differently - for good or ill. A teacher is entitled to say, "You got an F because you didn't turn in your assignments. If you had turned in your assignments you wouldn't have gotten an F." The fallacy of Hypothesis Contrary to Fact follows the same general pattern of reasoning. However, it does so in a context in which the consequences of an action are not actually clear. In a complex situation other factors are likely to intervene. The boundary between clear situations and complex situations is, of course, broad and fuzzy, and the fuzziness
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This note was uploaded on 05/11/2008 for the course ENGL 168 taught by Professor Aberle,danielle during the Spring '07 term at Cornell.

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Hypothesis Contrary to Fact - Hypothesis Contrary to Fact...

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