What is a Logical Fallacy? | Description and Types of Logical Fallacies

What is a Logical Fallacy?: A fallacy is the usage of reasoning with major flaws and is otherwise considered invalid or “wrong moves in forming an argument or a counter argument. Logical fallacies in the modern world are far too prevalent. This article does a deep dive into logical fallacies in critical thinking and will also help to solve logical fallacies pdf.

During the reading of this article, the question of why are logical fallacies bad? It might arise multiple times. It is in this context various forms of logical fallacies are explained in this article.

Logical Fallacy

Description of Logical Fallacies

A logical fallacy is a statement or argument that seems to be true at the face of it but it crumbles once the rules of logic applied to the created statement. It is only then that one realizes that it’s not logical in any sense; rather, it is a statement devoid of logic.

Logical fallacies are in a sense used frequently in a bid to mislead people and trick them into believing something they otherwise won’t.

Logical Fallacies can further be divided into two categories

  • Formal Fallacy: A formal fallacy can be defined as an argument that consists of a premise and conclusion. However, when held to scrutiny, the argument breaks, or the statement is incorrect. The argument falls apart, creating a logical fallacy.
  • Informal Fallacy: An informal fallacy can be defined as an argument that has an error in its form, error in its content, or error in the context of the argument.

Types of Logical Fallacies

If a logical fallacy convinces one, false conclusions might lead the person in a wrong way and cause them to make decisions that they may later regret. Worse still, if one uses logical fallacies on one’s arguments, they risk portraying themselves as gullible or uninformed and can even go on to seem dishonest.

This article takes a small look and explains the most common logical fallacies so that one may be able to spot them and further understand how to avoid them if one comes across them in their life, be it in their personal life or their professional life. The types of logical fallacies are as follows:

Ad Hominem

An ad hominem fallacy is the version of fallacy where one uses personal attacks rather than logic to uphold their statements. This fallacy comes into play when someone rejects or criticizes another point of view based on their characteristics, ethnic background, physical appearance, or other non-relevant traits of the person holding those views.

Ad hominem arguments are the most common phenomena found and used in politics, where they are often referred to as “mudslinging.” They are considered an unethical basis of argument because politicians are later able to use these arguments to manipulate voters’ opinions against an opponent by simply not addressing the core issues at hand.

An example of the working of this fallacy is: When a lawyer states his client cannot be held responsible for murder because he is a human being. The argument focuses on the personal characteristics of being poor rather than focusing on the core issue at hand, which is theft.

Straw Man

A straw man constitutes a fallacy where the argument from one person attacks a topic that is entirely different from the topic being discussed — often a more extreme version of the counterargument during the time the original topic was being discussed.

The essential purpose of this misdirection of the straw man argument is to make one’s position much stronger than it is. Thus, for the person’s argument to look stronger than it looks, it is paramount for the version of the counterargument to be much more extreme than the original topic.

The straw man argument is very correctly and appropriately named after a harmless, lifeless scarecrow. Instead of competing with the actual argument, the person attacks the equivalent of a lifeless bundle of straw, referring to the more powerful counterargument, which is essentially an attack to the powerless original argument and has no relation to the original argument.

An example of the straw man fallacy will be: Anne was selected as the representative of her class. She states that she thinks that the class should do more charity projects. Jim says he can’t believe that Anne doesn’t support the annual school dance.

Appeal to Ignorance

An appeal to ignorance can also be referred to as “argument from ignorance” constitutes the fallacy that argues that a proposition is considered true because it has not been proven false or there is no evidence against it. An appeal to ignorance does almost nothing besides shifting the need for proof away from the person making a claim.

The fallacy can be used to bolster multiple contradictions at the same time. An example of that will be: No one has ever been able to prove that aliens exist, so they must not exist” “No one has ever been able to prove that aliens do not exist, so they must be real.”

False Dilemma

A false dilemma or false dichotomy constitutes the fallacy that presents limited options — it typically focuses on two extreme options — ignoring the fact that more possibilities exist.

The false dilemma fallacy is used as a manipulative tool. It is designed so that it works very well for the purpose of polarizing the audience. Further, it is also used for promoting one side and demonizing another. It’s used very commonly and frequently in political discourse to strong-arm the public into winning their support.

An example of the functioning of a false dilemma will be The sentence “The choice is up to you to love me or hate.” The phrase is very polarizing and pushes the person who is choosing to choose from two extreme choices.

Slippery Slope

The slippery slope argument relies on making one think that the worst-case scenario of a particular situation that can happen will happen if one chooses to take a particular course of action, even though it might not necessarily be the case. It is again used to force one’s opinion and get approval by mentioning the worst-case scenario.

An example of the fallacy of the slippery slope will be: “If you don’t buy me this computer, I will fail my whole semester.” It is stated that if he does not buy the computer, he will fail his semester, which is the worst-case scenario. Disapproval of the term might not lead to the worst-case scenario as mentioned in the sentence.

Circular Argument

A circular argument comes into play when a person has run out of assumptions to defend his statement and repeats what they already assumed before without arriving at a new conclusion.

Circular arguments are often used as both a premise and a conclusion. This fallacy only looks to be an argument when the person is just repeating his own assumptions repeatedly like a circle, i.e., going round and round. For example, if someone says, “According to my notes, my notes are reliable,” that’s a circular argument.

Hasty Generalization

A hasty generalization comes into the fray when a claim is based on a few examples rather than actual hard substantial evidence or proof. These arguments based on ‘hasty generalizations’ often fall apart during questioning due to the fact that it is based on hasty examples rather than actual proof.

The claim might be true in some cases, not always.

Hasty generalizations are common and much frequent in arguments since there is a huge range of things that are held acceptable or true. The rules for evidence mostly change based on the context and the kind of statement one is making, and the environment that one is making it in.

It is used in arguments that might have its roots in politics, philosophical discussions, even minor things of everyday life like food and clothing. An example of the usage of this fallacy is: “Jim’s grandparents do not know how to use a computer because they are old.”

Appeal to Authority

This fallacy constitutes the misuse of an authority’s opinion to support an argument. The authority’s opinion can represent and is most likely based on evidence, data, and other methods to arrive at an opinion. However, it becomes a fallacy when their opinion expertise is used in arguments where it is illegitimate and not relevant to the topic.

For example, suppose a heart doctor’s opinion is taken into account when trying to prove something related to psychiatry. In that case, it will become a fallacy of the order of Appeal to Authority.

Bandwagon Fallacy

The bandwagon fallacy constitutes a fallacy where it is assumed something is true (or right or good) because others agree with it. In other words, the fallacy argues that if a certain number of people think in a certain way, it must be the right or the good way, and others should believe it to be true or good as well.

The problem with this kind of argument is because even though a majority of the people subscribe or agree to a particular opinion, it may or may not be true. It can be so that a significant amount of people believe something that is wrong because, more often than not, these arguments aren’t based on any evidence for it to be true or good.

An example of the bandwagon fallacy would be: “Joe saw Cam wearing synthetic leather pants, so I bought a pair of synthetic leather pants for myself.” In the example, the fact that Joe saw Cam wearing the synthetic leather pants makes it good, and thus he bought a pair for himself.

Thus, the article details the various forms of fallacies that are existent in the world. However, these are not the only types of fallacies present; there are loads of other fallacies. This article only details a few of them.

This article is written to help the understanding of first-time learners on the fallacies to avoid while forming a statement, opinion, or research paper. It is advisable to always check for logical fallacies to hold even under strict examination, making it a statement of some substance.

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