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Chapter 6 Overview

Critical Thinking

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Chapter 6 Overview We are now beginning to look beyond individual truth claims to the support that people offer for what they say. Chapters 6 and 7 take a first step toward the study of arguments with what you may call "would- be arguments," reasons people have or adduce for their beliefs that do not in fact support them. Pseudoreasoning comprises two kinds of would-be arguments—those that appeal in a misguided fashion to emotions, and those constructed like real arguments but not working like them. 1. Pseudoreasoning is a kind of rhetoric that aims at supporting a claim. That is, it offers considerations meant to persuade you to accept the claim. a. Whereas a good argument gives a justification for accepting its conclusion, fallacies are likely to have some connection with the claim they are meant to support, but do not in fact support that claim. b. Because fallacies are defined in terms of what they are not (not good that is), they do not lend themselves to technical or exhaustive classification in the way that good argumentation does. i. Thus the classifications offered in these chapters may overlap in places, or fail to capture what has gone wrong in a particular argument. ii. The point of these chapters is to alert you to a number of ways in which reasoning may fail. c. Within the broad group of all fallacies, the main distinction to keep in mind is the one between thinking that has been distorted by misplaced emotions and thinking that has made a mistake. 2. A would-be argument may be called an "argument" from outrage if it hides relevant issues by arousing anger. a. The anger is not the problem. Anger is not an argument, and as long as it doesn't pretend to be one it can't be a fallacy either.
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