University: What are logical fallacies?

Dr. Lindy Ledohowski, Co-Founder & CEO

Mar 30, 2020 6:57:48 AM

As we all know, the point of an argumentative essay is to prove one’s thesis. The way in which that is done is by providing evidence to support points that all add up to support the thesis.

 

Arguments exist everywhere in the world around us. These are sometimes not made by logically backing up points with meaningful proof and evidence. Therefore, it is up to us to figure out what tools and tricks are constantly being used on us to convince us of one thing or another. Let's go over how to spot logical fallacies. 

What's a logical fallacy?

Some of these tools and tricks are called fallacies.  A fallacy is a type of argument that may seem to be correct, but that proves, on examination, not to be so

 

Why should you care?

Below I've listed fallacies that rear their ugly heads often in argumentation.  And the reasons that it is important and meaningful for you understand to use this list as a resource are:

  • It will give you an elevated vocabulary to discuss and deconstruct media arguments
  • These philosophical concepts can help you to ensure that you are never fooled by the verbal trickery in the world around you!
  • You can ensure that when you write an essay or research paper you don't accidentally use any of these logical fallacies.

Types of fallacies*

The Argument from Ignorance: Agrument ad Ignorantiam

This fallacy occurs when someone argues that some thesis/premise is false simply because it has not been proven true.

 

The Appeal to Inappropriate Authority:  Argument ad Verecundiam

This fallacy occurs when an attempt is made to support a claim by citing the opinion of an “expert” who really is not an expert in the specific field of the thesis/premise.

 

The Doubtful Cause:  Post hoc, ergo Propter hoc (meaning:  “after this, therefore because of this”)

This fallacy occurs when the argument is made that simply because something follows another it is a result of the first thing that occurred.  

 

The Argument Against the Person:  Argument ad Hominem

This fallacy arises when someone attacks the validity of a thesis/premise by directing the attack not at the conclusion but at some qualities of a person.

 

The Appeal to Emotion:  Argument ad Populum

By appealing to one’s emotions, the person setting out to prove the validity of a thesis/premise skips the act of presenting a logical argument with rational supporting evidence.

 

The Appeal to Pity:  Argument ad Misericordiam

Almost as a sub-group of the Appeal to Emotion fallacy, the Appeal to Pity specifically appeals to the audience’s sense of pity and empathy.

 

The Appeal to Force:  Argument ad Baculum

One can try to gain the agreement of others with respect to a particular thesis/premise by using explicit or veiled threats.  Any time a threat is even implied the fallacy ad Baculum is in effect.

 

The Irrelevant Conclusion:  Ignoratio Elenchi

This fallacy occurs when an argument appears to be set up to prove a particular thesis/premise, but then claims that it is indeed proving something else that it has not offered appropriate evidence for

 

How can you avoid logical fallacies in your own writing?

 

Simple make sure you use EssayJack's "Academic Writing" template which we have in our app. It'll guide you through the process of writing an essay with tips, prompts, and guides so you never forget to present evidence for you points, explain them well, and also make sure you are hitting all the right points at the right time. 

 

 

*Adapted from:

Copi, I.  Introduction to Logic.  Toronto:  Prentice Hall, 1997.

Rottenberg, Annette T.  Elements of Argument:  A Text and Reader.  Boston:  Bedford Books, 1996.

 

 

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