Western Logic Informal Fallacies-Fallacies of Relevance, the Appeal to Emotion and Questions

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Western Logic Informal Fallacies: Fallacies of Relevance (Philosophy)

Informal Fallacies

  • Informal fallacy occurs when there is a mistake or an error with the content of the argument.

  • Informal fallacies concern themselves with the content of an inductive argument where the content is irregular, insufficient or ambiguous due to which it fails to provide a logical conclusion.

  • Informal fallacies are numerous in number but they can be best understood when arranged in four main heads.

They are;

  • Fallacies of Relevance

  • Fallacies of Defective Induction

  • Fallacies of Presumption

  • Fallacies of Ambiguity

Fallacies of Relevance

  • They occur when there is no connection between the premises and the conclusion.

  • They are most common and frequently occurring fallacies in arguments, speeches, etc.

  • In other words, it occurs when the premises of the argument are not relevant to the drawn conclusion.

They are of six kinds;

  • The appeal to Emotion

  • The Red Herring

  • The Straw Man

  • The Attack on the Person

  • The Appeal to Force

  • Missing the Point

  • Argument to Pity

The Appeal to Emotion

  • In this fallacy, the argument is tried to be won by appealing to the emotions of the audience.

  • It relies on emotions, expressive language and not on reason, evidence and rational thinking.

  • Hence, the name appeal to one’s or people’s emotions.

  • Another name for this fallacy is Argument ad populum.

  • For example, the fairness cream advertisement shows that ever since the girl has started applying the fairness cream, people have started noticing her, she is getting jobs offers, etc.

  • So, this argument appeals to the emotions of the dark or brown skinned people.

  • In this argument, emotions are used to win an argument.

  • This fallacy substitutes emotions for reason.

  • This fallacy is mostly used in political speeches, advertisements of beauty products, etc.

The Red Herring

  • It is a fallacy of relevance which is committed when some distraction is used to mislead or confuse.

  • This deals with deliberately misleading the conversation on some other topic or subject which was not initially the part of the conversation.

  • For example, a child tells him mother that I want a toy and the mother replies, let’s go home early as there is a present for you at home.

  • Here, the topic of discussion shifts to something else which not the topic was before.

  • Similarly, when A says to B, Global warming is a harsh reality. B replies saying there are so many people who die every year because of cold.

The Straw Man

  • This fallacy is committed when one manipulates, distorts and plays with an argument and makes an argument turn over some other conflict within the discussion.

  • It simpler words, it occurs when we shift the conflict to some other issue within the same conversation.

  • It is a work of manipulation, it is committed when one manipulates, distorts and plays with an argument and makes an argument over some other conflict within the discussion.

  • For example, when a group of people were critically analysing the drawbacks of the current government, some people shifted the focus to how bad the earlier government was.

  • This fallacy deals with a deliberate action. Similarly, when A says to B, I like the rainy season. B replies, if there is no sun, crops will die and eventually we will all die of hunger.

The Attack on the Person

  • Attacking a person is committed when one attacks a person for accepting a conclusion rather than attacking the conclusion.

  • In other words, argument against the people or argument ad hominen is committed when an attack is made on the person who defends the conclusion and not on the conclusion.

  • As the name rightly suggests, attack the person.

  • For example, don’t believe what Rahul says on global warming because Rahul is a dropout from college.

  • Here, a personal attack is made on Rahul for being a college dropout and not on what he is stating on global warming. Or, you failed in the Hindi test, do not teach me logic.

The Appeal to Force

  • Appeal to force or ad Baculum is committed when force or threats are used to win an argument.

  • For example, if you do not vote for our party, then there will be only unemployment in the society. Therefore, the youth will have no jobs.

  • Or, I want you to pay me in advance else I will see you alone.

  • Here, force, coercion, or even a threat of force is used in place of reason in order to win an argument.

Missing the Point

  • This fallacy is also known as the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion or mistaken refutation.

  • Missing the point is a fallacy when there is a disconnect between the premise and the conclusion.

  • It is also known as Ignoratio Elenchi.

For example,

  • There are more reports of theft reported in Delhi

  • More people are moving to Delhi

  • Therefore, more thefts are caused by more people moving to Delhi

Appeal to Pity

  • It is another variety of the fallacy of appeal to emotions.

  • Under this fallacy, the pity of another person is evoked in-order to win an argument.

  • For example, I did not do my homework because I was really ill, I couldn’t even lift the pencil.

  • This is a fine example of appeal to pity of the teacher used by a student who failed to do his/her homework.

  • Another example would be, don’t punish the poor old man for his sins, he lives on the streets and have no one to look after him.

  • It is also known as ad Misericordiam; Misericordiam in Latin means merciful heart.

Questions

1. Ad Misericordiam is also known as

A. Attack on Person

B. Appeal to force

C. Missing the point

D. Appeal to pity

Answer: D

2. Informal fallacies occur when

A. Form of the argument has a mistake

B. Structure of the argument has a mistake

C. Content of the argument has a mistake

D. Both A and B

Answer: C

3. A says to B, I like the rainy season. B replies, if there is no sun, crops will die and eventually we will all die of hunger. This commits the fallacy of

A. Straw man

B. Red Herring

C. Missing the point

D. Attack the person

Answer: A

4. A says to B, Global warming is a harsh reality. B replies saying there are so many people who die every year because of cold. This commits the fallacy of

A. Straw man

B. Red Herring

C. Missing the point

D. Attack the person

Answer: B

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