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Flashcards in Fallacies Deck (48):

Appeal to Force

A strategy in which the person offering the argument threatens to do physical or psychological harm to their audience if the audience does not accept the conclusion being proposed


Appeal to Force Example

Melvin: Boss, why do I have to work weekends when nobody else in the company does?

Boss: Am I sensing insubordination? I can find another employee very quickly, thanks to Craigslist, you know.


Appeal to Pity

A strategy in which the arguer invokes the audience's pity either for him/herself or for some other person or group as the sole support for accepting a conclusion


Appeal to Pity Example

I really deserve an “A” on this paper, professor. Not only did I study during my grandmother’s funeral, but I also passed up the heart transplant surgery, even though that was the first matching donor in 3 years.


Appeal to the People

Direct - Using language that appeals to the emotions and identity of the crowd as a whole in order to get the crowd as a whole to accept one's conclusion

Indirect - Using language that appeals to some specific individual(s) relationship to the crowd (desires for acceptance, identity, etc) to get that individual(s) to accept one's conclusion


Appeal to the People Examples

Since 88% of the people polled believed in UFOs, they must exist.

It’s silly for you to claim that Hitler would not have attacked the United States if they hadn’t entered World War II. Everyone knows that he planned to conquer the world.

Brand X vacuum cleaners are the leading brand in America. You should buy Brand X vacuum cleaners.


Against the Person

Inferring that an argument is invalid based upon the character, social position or actions of the speaker, without reference to the speaker's competence or objectivity. Always involves two arguers


Against the Person (Abusive)

Attacking the person making the argument, rather than the argument itself, when the attack on the person is completely irrelevant to the argument the person is making.


Against the Person (Circumstantial)

Suggesting that the person who is making the argument is biased or predisposed to take a particular stance, and therefore, the argument is necessarily invalid.


Against the Person (Tu Quoque)

Claiming the argument is flawed by pointing out that the one making the argument is not acting consistently with the claims of the argument.


Against the Person (Abusive) Example

My opponent suggests that lowering taxes will be a good idea -- this is coming from a woman who eats a pint of Ben and Jerry’s each night!


Against the Person (Circumstantial) Example

Salesman: This car gets better than average gas mileage and is one of the most reliable cars according to Consumer Reports.

Will: I doubt it—you obviously just want to sell me that car.


Against the Person (Tu Quoque) Example

Helga: You should not be eating that... it has been scientifically proven that eating fat burgers are no good for your health.

Hugh: You eat fat burgers all the time so that can’t be true.



Applying a general rule to a specific case where the general rule was not intended to apply to that case


Accident Example

I believe one should never deliberately hurt another person, that’s why I can never be a surgeon.


Straw Man

When arguing against a specific opponent or view, presenting an extreme version of the view under consideration, refuting the extreme version of the view, then concluding that one has refuted the opponent's actual view


Straw Man Example

Zebedee: What is your view on the Christian God?

Mike: I don’t believe in any gods, including the Christian one.

Zebedee: So you think that we are here by accident, and all this design in nature is pure chance, and the universe just created itself?

Mike: You got all that from me stating that I just don’t believe in any gods?


Missing the Point

Stating from relatively secure premises, the arguer draws a conclusion that is related in some way but NOT supported by the premises logically


Missing the Point Example

There has been an increase in burglary in the area. It must be because there are more people moving into the area.


Red Herring

Diverting the attention of the reader or listener from the topic at hand to a completely different thought perhaps a distantly related one (throwing someone off the scent)


Red Herring Example

Mike: It is morally wrong to cheat on your spouse, why on earth would you have done that?

Ken: But what is morality exactly?

Mike: It’s a code of conduct shared by cultures.

Ken: But who creates this code?...


Appeal to Unqualified Authority

Appeal to the testimony or say so of an authority in a case where the individual in question is either not qualified as an authority on the topic being argued about or likely to be biased or has a clear interest in not telling the truth


Appeal to Unqualified Authority Example

Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and perhaps the foremost expert in the field, says that evolution is true. Therefore, it's true.


Appeal to Ignorance

Occurs when someone argues with respect to a given position that either lacks conclusive proof that the given position is true leads us to believe that the position is true and vice versa


Appeal to Ignorance Example

No one has proven there isn't...

It must be the case that... because you can't prove you didn't


Hasty Generalization

Simply bad inductive reasoning. Generalizing about either an entire group of people/events or a specific individual/thing based upon a very small or unrepresentative sample size


Hasty Generalization Example

My father smoked four packs of cigarettes a day since age fourteen and lived until age sixty-nine. Therefore, smoking really can’t be that bad for you.


False Cause

An event or thing 'X' happened after an event/thing 'Y' happened, therefore 'Y' must be the cause of 'X', where there is little reason to think such a causal connection exists or the causal connection more likely works in the reverse direciton


False Cause

"Napoleon became a great emperor because he was so short."


Slippery Slope

The assertion that accepting some proposition (usually the proposal to take some action or enact some policy) will lead to a chain reaction


Slippery Slope Example

We cannot unlock our child from the closet because if we do, she will want to roam the house. If we let her roam the house, she will want to roam the neighborhood. If she roams the neighborhood, she will get picked up by a stranger in a van, who will sell her in a sex slavery ring in some other country. Therefore, we should keep her locked up in the closet.


Weak Analogy

Arguing that since two things, a and b, are similar with respect to characteristics x, y, and z, and a has an additional characteristic c, b will have that characteristic as well, where it just isn't likely that the analogy (between a and b) is a good one


Weak Analogy Example

Not believing in the literal resurrection of Jesus because the Bible has errors and contradictions, is like denying that the Titanic sank because eye-witnesses did not agree if the ship broke in half before or after it sank.


Begging the Question

An argument begs the question for a specific person if that person does not accept as true one or more of the premises of the argument

Tacit premises


Begging the Question Example

Paranormal activity is real because I have experienced what can only be described as paranormal activity.


Complex Question

A strategy to force one's interlocutor to commit to two propositions when she or he intends to commit only to one. This occurs when one person asks another to respond to a question that includes and additional presumption in such a way that the response applies to both the question asked and the tacit assumption contains. When trying to identify, we should be able to identify the two distinct questions being asked


Complex Question Example

How many school shootings should we tolerate before we change the gun laws?


False Dichotomy

Works by offering a false disjunctive statement (p v q) where one of the disjuncts is clearly undesirable with


Suppressed Evidence

Occurs when the arguer offeres an argument for a conclusion, but is aware of or has readily available additional evidence that does not support (and usually contradicts0 the conclusion


Suppressed Evidence Example

My political candidate gives 10% of his income to the needy, goes to church every Sunday, and volunteers one day a week at a homeless shelter. Therefore, he is honest and morally straight.



Occurs when the apparent validity and soundness of an argument depends on the fact that a key ambiguous term is being used with two different meanings in the premises. When trying to identify, we should be able to identify the two different meanings of the ambiguous terms


Equivocation Examples

The priest told me I should have faith.

I have faith that my son will do well in school this year.

Therefore, the priest should be happy with me.



Occurs when one person makes a statement where it is clear what she/he intended, but where the statement is technically ambiguous, and another person uses this ambiguity to from a conclusion from the speaker's statement that was probably not intended by the speaker


Amphiboly Example

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know



Parts to whole: Inferring that because the parts of a thing have a certain feature the whole must have that feature as well



Each brick in that building weighs less than a pound. Therefore, the building weighs less than a pound.



Whole to parts: Inferring that because a whole object/group has a certain characteristic, each individual part or member must have this characteristic as well


Division Example

His house is about half the size of most houses in the neighborhood. Therefore, his doors must all be about 3 1/2 feet high.