Western Logic Formal Fallacy Part 2for Competitive Exams

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Western Logic - Formal & Informal Fallacy : Types of 6 Fallacies (Philosophy)

Fallacy

  • When an argument fails to support its conclusion, that argument is termed as fallacious in nature.
  • A fallacious argument is hence an erroneous argument.
  • In other words, any error or mistake in an argument leads to a fallacy.
  • So, the definition of fallacy is any argument which although seems correct but has an error committed in its reasoning.
  • Hence, a fallacy is an error, a fallacious argument is an argument which has erroneous reasoning.
  • In the words of Frege, the analytical philosopher, “it is a logician՚s task to identify the pitfalls in language.” Hence, logicians are concerned with the task of identifying fallacious arguments in logic which are also called as incorrect or invalid arguments.
  • There are numerous fallacies but they are classified under two main heads;
    • Formal Fallacies
    • Informal Fallacies
      • Formal Fallacies:
        • Formal fallacies are those mistakes or errors which occur in the form of the argument.
        • In other words, formal fallacies concern themselves with the form or the structure of the argument.
        • Formal fallacies are present when there is a structural error in a deductive argument.
        • It is important to note that formal fallacies always occur in a deductive argument.

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There are of six types:

Fallacy of Four Terms

  • A valid syllogism must contain three terms, each of which should be used in the same sense throughout, else it is a fallacy of four terms.
  • This means, an argument must have only three terms. The three terms are; major term, middle term and minor term.
  • Each of these terms should be used in the same sense throughout the argument (premises and conclusion) . For example;
    • All dogs are cute
    • All cats are animals
    • Therefore, all dogs are animals
      • Here, the argument has more than three terms; dogs, cute, cats and animals.
      • Another name for this fallacy is Quaternio Terminorum.
      • In short, when more than three or less than three terms are used in a syllogism then we have a formal fallacy which is called fallacy of four terms.
      • Hence, a valid syllogism uses only three terms (not more, not less) .

The Fallacy of Undistributed Middle Term

  • Undistributed middle term is a fallacy when the middle term of the syllogism in not distributed in either of the premises.
  • For a valid syllogism, the middle term must be distributed in at least one of the premise.
  • It could be either major premise or the minor premise.
  • It is also important to note that the Middle term never appears in the conclusion in a valid syllogism.
  • For example,
    • All people are patriotic
    • All Indians are patriotic
    • Therefore, all Indians are people
  • Here, the middle term, patriotic is neither distributed in the major premise, nor in the minor premise.
  • So, although the argument looks valid, it is a fallacious argument.

The Fallacy of Illicit Process

  • When a term distributed in the conclusion is not disturbed in the premises, we have a fallacy of undistributed term or illicit process
  • This fallacy is further divided into two parts;
    • Illicit Major
    • Illicit Minor

Illicit Major

  • When the major term distributed in the conclusion is not distributed in the major premise, we have Illicit major.
  • For example, All dogs are mammals , No cats are dogs, Therefore, no cats are mammals
  • Here, the major term (mammals) is distributed in the conclusion but it is not distributed in the major premise- All dogs are mammals.

Illicit Minor

  • When the minor term distributed in the conclusion is not distributed in the minor premise, we have Illicit minor fallacy.
  • For example,
    • All traditionally religious people are old people
    • All traditionally religious people are married people
  • Therefore, all married people are old people
  • Here, the minor term (married people) is distributed in the conclusion but it is not distributed in the minor premise- All traditionally religious people are married people.

MCQ

1. Formal fallacies are those which

Options:

A. Occur in the form of the argument

B. Occur in the structure of the argument

C. Both A and B

D. Occur in the content of the argument

Answer: C

2. When an argument has less than three terms, it commits the fallacy of

Options:

A. Fallacy of four terms

B. No fallacy is committed

C. Undistributed Middle term

D. None of these

Answer: A

3. When a term distributed in the conclusion is not disturbed in the premises, we have a fallacy of

Options:

A. Illicit Major

B. Illicit Minor

C. Illicit Process

D. Undistributed Middle term

Answer: C

  • We learnt about:

#formal

#informal

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#relevance

#Fallacyofillicitprocess

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