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3.4 - 3.4 Fallacies of Presumption Ambiguity and...

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3.4. Fallacies of Presumption, Ambiguity, and Grammatical Analogy 4 Fallacies of Presumption The premises of an argument that commits this fallacy somehow presume or presuppose the conclusion they are meant to support. 1 Begging the Question 2 Complex Question 3 False Dichotomy 4 Suppressed Evidence --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------------- 1. Begging the Question (Petitio Principii) - An arguer commits the fallacy of begging the question when she restates the conclusion as one of the premises she argues from, reasons in a circle, or leaves a premise unstated that would, if stated, be seen to be at least as controversial as the conclusion in question. Examples: 1. Capital punishment is justified for the crimes of rape and murder because it is quite legitimate and appropriate that someone be put to death for having committed such hateful and inhuman acts. 2. Criminals are basically stupid; no one who wasn't basically stupid would be a criminal. - Both of these arguments are fallacious, since the premise of each argument just says the same thing the conclusion does in a different way. Circular Reasoning : fallacious Examples 1. We know that induction will provide dependable results in the future because it always has in the past. Whatever has consistently worked in the past will continue to work in the future, and we know that this is true by induction. (relies on induction in arguing that induction is reliable. 2. We know that God exists because it says so in the Bible. And to those non-believers who challenge the authority of scripture, I say that no work could have greater authority as it is the living word of God. (relies on the existence of God in arguing that God exists.) Strategic Omission - Perhaps the most common way of begging the question is strategic omission of a premise. - Examples 1. Murder is morally wrong. It follows that abortion is morally wrong. - leaves unstated the premise that abortion is murder. The argument doesn't go through without this premise, but at the same time this premise is highly controversial and just as difficult to establish as the conclusion it's being used to support. 2. Terrorists do not deserve protection under the law. They forfeit such consideration by their actions. Thus, we were justified in denying the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay the right to file habeas corpus petitions. - The second argument leaves unstated the important premise that the detainees at Guantanamo are terrorists. They were (are) suspected terrorists. But it is a cornerstone of our judicial system, and of international law as well, that persons should not be subject to capricious or unjust detention, which is the stock and trade of authoritarian regimes. The purpose of habeas corpus protection is precisely to guard against such detention. So again, the unstated premise is crucial to the argument and at the same time very hard to establish, at least without granting the Guantanamo detainees the very right the argument would deny them (viz., the right to challenge their status in front of an impartial court).
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