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Philosophy Logic

In private discussions and debates, in discourses and arguments, there often exist logical mistakes in the reasoning process itself. Such errors or logical fallacies can be categorized as formal fallacies and informal fallacies. Formal fallacies imply a break in the deductive argument of the logic while informal fallacies usually deal with inductive argument and are often dependant on implications and ambiguity due to language and presentation. Informal Fallacy – Inductive Argument Informal fallacies depend on inductive argument. Such fallacies do not clearly break a rule of logic but usually depend on ambiguity or similar misuse of language.

Strong inductive arguments are those where the premise is linked to the conclusion by a convincing logic. The merit of an inductive logic is determined by the strength of the link between the premise and the conclusion. Informal fallacies are those that fail to meet the standards required of inductive logic and often have a fundamental disconnect between the premise and the conclusion of the argument. Such fallacies can be categorized into fallacies of relevance and fallacies of ambiguity. Fallacies of relevance Fallacies of relevance are those where the argument relies on premises that are not relevant to its conclusion.

The assumption that the conclusion follows from the premises of the argument is usually erroneous in the case of these fallacies. Fallacies of relevance offer evidence that has no bearing on the truth of the conclusion. These are used to persuade people by non-logical means. They often resort to other faculties other than logic itself to make them convince gullible people. They can appeal to force, to pity, to emotion, to authority to ignorance, etc. Fallacies are best understood by examples, so we shall look at various examples dealing with fallacies of relevance.

An example of appealing to pity can be when points out unfortunate circumstances and counts on the pity of the audience to convince them. For example, one lady is asked to resign from his job due to underperformance. She explains that she is a single mother and if she resigns her two small children will not have to means to get an education and so she should not be asked to resign. The logic presented her has no relevance to the main issue here and it depends on the employer’s pity to substantiate her case. Another type of fallacy of relevance depends on an appeal to authority. An example is a maid who works for an employer.

The employer tells her maid that she believes political party A is god for the country. If the maid votes for A, she will get two days leave from work. This is a case where the authority of the employer’s position is used to convince a point. A third, very commonly used example is when one is expected to accept the truth of a proposition just because there is no counter logic to disprove it. Example is there no life on Jupiter simply because no one has proven that there is. There is another interesting example of a fallacy of relevance. This is the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion. It goes like – Children need their parents’ attention.

Parents who work cannot give attention to their parents. Therefore, mothers should not work. In this example the premise speaks of the parents but the conclusion drawn is only about the mother. Fallacies of ambiguity Fallacies of ambiguity, on the other hand, involve some confusion over the meaning itself, usually due to the imprecise use of language. Such sentences usually have two or more different meanings. One kind of fallacy of ambiguity is that which uses equivocation. In such fallacies a single word can be used in different ways in different premises. As an example, one can say that pure cotton clothes are rare.

Rare clothes are expensive. So pure cotton clothes are expensive. This conclusion is incorrectly implied. The word ‘rare’ is differently used as applied to cotton clothes and expensive clothes, thereby causing the fallacy. Another type of fallacy of ambiguity is an amphiboly. An example is that a car injured a child playing in the campus. So it is not safe to play in the campus. Here the fallacy is caused by improperly linking one event to reach a conclusion. There are also fallacies of ambiguity caused by accent. These are cases where the emphasis on a word or phrase can cause a shift in meaning.

One can say, today, Mary completed her assignment on time. An emphasis on today can imply that Mary usually does not complete her work on time. This is a fallacy of ambiguity. Fallacies of ambiguity are easily exposed when the use of terms and language are clarified. Composition and division are two other fallacies of ambiguity. In composition the premise applicable to an individual or single element is applied to the whole to incorrectly reach a conclusion. One example is that the course I did in college was well planned. So, I can say that education system in my college is well planned.

Similarly, division is attributing of some feature of the whole group to a single element to draw a conclusion. Tigers are now getting extinct in India. Sherkhan is the name of a tiger in India. So, Sherkhan is dying. The logic of the premise does not apply to an individual of the species but is incorrectly applied here. Understanding and avoiding fallacies Fallacies interfere with one’s ability to arrive at the truth. They can be simple human mistakes or deliberately used to manipulate others. Understanding fallacies is the first step that prepares us to identify them when they cross our ways.

While formal fallacies can be identified by one with good logical reasoning ability, informal fallacies require one to be more wary and watchful. As one starts to identify such patterns of reasoning, one can learn to avoid slipping into such mistakes and also becomes adept at pointing them out when others commit such mistakes and can stop one from getting fooled by others. Works Cited 1. Introduction to Logic, Copi, Irving M. 2. http://science. jrank. org/pages/9301/Fallacy-Logical-Informal-Fallacies. html 3. http://www. logicalfallacies. info/ 4. http://www. philosophypages. com

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