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Chapter 7 Overview

Critical Thinking

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Chapter 7 Overview Many types of bad reasoning do not begin with an emotional response to an issue. The types listed in Chapter 7 often follow the structure of a good argument, but with some element of that argument distorted. In general, the speaker makes a genuine argument, but one that lacks a proper connection with the truth-claim at stake. As in Chapter 6, the categories of rhetorical ploy presented here cover the most common kinds of fallacy —so common, in fact, that the major terms of Chapter 7 have entered everyday English. 1. The fallacies covered in this chapter often resemble good reasoning more than the examples from Chapter 6 did. In many cases they start with the structure of a good argument and garble or pervert it. 2. The most common kind of bad reasoning is the ad hominem fallacy. Whatever specific form it takes, the ad hominem mixes up what a claim is saying with the circumstances under which it is said. a. The simplest form of this fallacy, the personal attack ad hominem, maligns a person in order to dismiss that person's beliefs. i. The personal attacks may be true or false. That doesn't matter. ii. What matters is that with a few special kinds of exceptions, the existence of someone's personal failings does not prove that the person is making false claims. b. A more specialized personal attack goes by the name of the inconsistency ad hominem. Here one dismisses a claim on the grounds of the speaker's inconsistency. i. Inconsistency does bring a position down, if a person is asserting both some claim and the contradiction of that claim. When I argue both that vigorous daily exercise is good for my health and that it wears down my organs, you can dismiss my claims on the grounds of their inconsistency. ii. But in one variety of the inconsistency ad hominem, the contradiction between two beliefs reaches back to something that a person said in the past. "How can you say caffeine makes people sleepless, when back in high school you told me it had no effect at all?" iii. A more common variety (called the tu quoque ) finds an inconsistency between people's statements and their behavior. "You say this sausage is loaded with cholesterol but I notice you eat it every morning." The person may be a hypocrite, but sausage contains cholesterol regardless. c.
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Chapter 7 Overview - Chapter 7 Overview Many types of bad...

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