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Fallacy Summary and Applications

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Fallacy Summary and Applications

Richard M. Murnane

MGT 350

Paula C. Herring

October 31, 2005

Fallacy Summary and Applications

Have you, as a writer, ever attempted to employ logic to support the claims that you are making in your paper? Have you ever thought that your reasoning was weakened due to the presenting of fallacious arguments in your papers? In writing papers, or presenting arguments, it is important for you to be able to identify, and then eliminate any fallacies in your writing, or argument. This paper will go over certain fallacies, and give a definition for each one. It will also explain the significance each fallacy plays in its significance to critical thinking, and discuss the fallacies general application to decision making.

Quite often, we as writers try to appeal to the audiences feeling to attract attention, and try to elicit some type of agreement with our ideas. We know that this can be very effective, but manipulating our readers’ feeling is not in any way employing logic. It does not make our writing, or our argument, any stronger. Logical thinking in writing a paper, or presenting an argument, does not involve feeling. The first fallacy we will be discussing in this paper is the Appeal to Authority, which is a logical fallacy. In Appeal to Authority, “the writer, or person presenting their argument cites authorities to show the validity of the claim, but the authority is not an expert in the field, the authority’s view is taken out of context, or other experts of the field disagree with the authority quoted,” as stated in Wikipedia. As far as its significance to Critical Thinking, we need to know that when a person, including ourselves, presents a position about a subject mentions some authority, who also holds that position, but who is not an authority in that area, is not always correct, or the right person to give that information. There are conditions for a legitimate argument from authority, because any argument should ideally be based solely upon direct evidence, not on any type of authority of the messenger. The authority must have competence in an area, not just glamour, prestige, rank or popularity. An example of this would be that of a sports or entertainment figure making claims about a foreign policy. Its general application in decision-making is pretty easy to see. Citing a person who “is” an authority in the relevant field “should” carry more weight, however this is a given possibility of a mistake, and must be made within the authority’s field of competence. So, basically, you should not always rely on other people, or the position that they hold, to help you make your decisions.

The second fallacy that we will be discussing in this paper is that of the Appeal to Consequences, which is Red Herring type of fallacy. The Appeal to Consequences is also an argument just as the Appeal to Authority is. However, the difference with the appeal to consequence is that it is an argument that concludes a premise. The definition of the Appeal to Consequences according to wikipedia is “an argument that concludes a premise, typically a belief, to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences.” Since the appeal of a consequence does not address the truth-value of the premise, it is considered to be a form of logical fallacy. The appeal to consequence and its significance to critical thinking is that it can come in three different forms; general form, positive form, and negative form. All three forms of the argument appeal to consequences, however they are not logical arguments, or papers, but are instead a type of ethical argument, or paper. As far as appeal to consequences, and its general application in decision-making, you have to realize that in addition to being a fallacious form of argument, and an especially poor argument, is that this type of argument, or paper may also contain an invalid premise. So in the end, you really cannot make any correct decisions based upon an appeal to consequence.

Some writers’ arguments fail not because of the information that they have given, but because of the type of

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