Fallacies of Argument

Fallacies of Argument - Fallacies of Argument Fallacies are...

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Fallacies of Argument Fallacies are arguments that are flawed by their very nature or structure. They instantly call into question the ethics of argumentation; is the argument fair, accurate, or principled? Fallacies are argumentative strategies that hurt everyone because they make productive argument more difficult. They muck up frank but civil conversations people should be able to have, regardless of their differences. Because fallacies are a form of rhetoric, they can be grouped under the main rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos. Fallacies of pathos Scare Tactics Scare tactics work on the principle that it is easier to imagine something terrible happening than to appreciate the statistical rarity of it. For example, people become much more anxious about flying than they do about driving in a car, even though automobile accidents happen on a scale that dwarfs plane crashes. Yet car crashes do not have the same impact on our imagination as plane crashes. Such fear can then be used to create arguments in favor of measures that would normally not hold up to statistical reasoning. (For example, choosing to drive
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a long distance for fear of a terrorist attack or crash on board a plane is a much riskier choice, statistically.) Scare tactics can also be used to stampede legitimate fears into panic or prejudice. Example: people who genuinely fear losing their jobs can be easily persuaded to mistrust all immigrants as people who might work for less money and take away their job. Such tactics have a way of closing off thinking because people do not act rationally when they are scared. Either-Or Choices A way to simplify arguments and give them power is to reduce the options for action to only two choices. The preferred option or the existing policy might be shown in a positive light, whereas the alternative is cast in an ominous shadow. Recall George W. Bush’s famous “you’re either with us or against us” line about the world’s involvement in the War on Terror. Either-Or arguments can be well-intentioned strategies to get something accomplished. Parents use them all the time, telling children that either they eat their broccoli or they won’t get dessert. Such arguments become fallacious when they reduce complicated issues to excessively simple terms or when they’re designed to obscure legitimate alternatives. Another example: the whole global warming debate pits two opposing viewpoints. On one side, the view is that GB is entirely man-made. On the other, it is viewed as a natural occurrence. But it doesn’t always occur to anyone that the two factors may not be mutually exclusive.
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Slippery Slope The aptly named slippery slope fallacy describes an argument that casts today’s tiny misstep as tomorrow’s slide into disaster. Not all arguments aimed at preventing dire consequences are
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Fallacies of Argument - Fallacies of Argument Fallacies are...

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