Student: Stanley

Write Expository Essay For Critical Thinking Class

Based on the curriculum for the Critical Thinking (Logic) course, write an expository essay that includes the following things in your own words: An explanation of freedom of expression (including an explanation of the purpose of freedom of expression) (20% of essay score) An explanation of the distinction between offensive speech and hate speech (this should include an explanation of both offensive speech and hate speech) (20% of essay score) Your own original logical argument that defends a definite position on whether hate speech should be legally protected. (For this essay, your argument here does not need to express your own sincere views. You can play the "Devil's advocate.") Your argument should be either deductive, valid, and sound, OR inductive, strong, and cogent (see Hurley 1.4). Your argument must include either a premise or a conclusion indicator (see Hurley 1.1), and it must also include a deductive or an inductive indicator (see Hurley 1.3). (15% of essay score) A post-script with a self-evaluation of your logical argument. Specifically, you should indicate whether you believe your argument to be deductive, valid, and sound, OR inductive, strong and cogent. (20% of essay score) No need to use outside sources, just based on Hurley textbook (material attached). 1.1Arguments, Premises, and Conclusions How Logical Are You? • After a momentary absence, you return to your table in the library only to find your smartphone is missing. It was there just minutes earlier. You suspect the student sitting next to you took it. After all, she has a guilty look. Also, there is a bulge in her backpack about the size of your phone, and one of the pouches has a loose strap. Then you hear a “ring” come from the backpack—and it’s the same ringtone that you use on your phone. Which of these pieces of evidence best supports your suspicion? Answer The best evidence is undoubtedly the “ring” you hear coming from her backpack, which is the same ringtone as the one on your phone. The weakest evidence is probably the “guilty look.” After all, what, exactly, is a guilty look? The bulge in the backpack and the loose strap are of medium value. The loose strap supports the hypothesis that something was quickly inserted into the backpack. In this section of the chapter you will learn that evidentiary statements form the premises of arguments. Logic may be defined as the organized body of knowledge, or science, that evaluates arguments. All of us encounter arguments in our day-to-day experience. We read them in books and newspapers, hear them on television, and formulate them when communicating with friends and associates. The aim of logic is to develop a system of methods and principles that we may use as criteria for evaluating the arguments of others and as guides in constructing arguments of our own. Among the benefits to be expected from the study of logic is an increase in confidence that we are making sense when we criticize the arguments of others and when we advance arguments of our own. An argument, in its simplest form, is a group of statements, one or more of which (the premises) are claimed to provide support for, or reasons to believe, one of the others (the conclusion). Every argument may be placed in either of two basic groups: those in which the premises really do support the conclusion and those in which they do not, even though they are claimed to. The former are said to be good arguments (at least to that extent), the latter bad arguments. The purpose of logic, as the science that evaluates arguments, is thus to develop methods and techniques that allow us to distinguish good arguments from bad. As is apparent from the given definition, the term argument has a very specific meaning in logic. It does not mean, for example, a mere verbal fight, as one might have with one’s parent, spouse, or friend. Let us examine the features of this definition in greater detail. First of all, an argument is a group of statements. A statement is a sentence that is either true or false—in other words, typically a declarative sentence or a sentence component that could stand as a declarative sentence. The following sentences are statements: Chocolate truffles are loaded with calories. Melatonin helps relieve jet lag. Political candidates always tell the complete truth. No wives ever cheat on their husbands. Tiger Woods plays golf and Maria Sharapova plays tennis. The first two statements are true, the second two false. The last one expresses two statements, both of which are true. Truth and falsity are called the two possible truth values of a statement. Thus, the truth value of the first two statements is true, the truth value of the second two is false, and the truth value of the last statement, as well as that of its components, is true. Unlike statements, many sentences cannot be said to be either true or false. Questions, proposals, suggestions, commands, and exclamations usually cannot, and so are not usually classified as statements. The following sentences are not statements: Where is Khartoum? (question) Let’s go to a movie tonight. (proposal) I suggest you get contact lenses. (suggestion) Turn off the TV right now. (command) Fantastic! (exclamation) The statements that make up an argument are divided into one or more premises and exactly one conclusion. The premises are the statements that set forth the reasons or evidence, and the conclusion is the statement that the evidence is claimed to support or imply. In other words, the conclusion is the statement that is claimed to follow from the premises. Here is an example of an argument: All film stars are celebrities. Halle Berry is a film star. Therefore, Halle Berry is a celebrity. The first two statements are the premises; the third is the conclusion. (The claim that the premises support or imply the conclusion is indicated by the word “therefore.”) In this argument the premises really do support the conclusion, and so the argument is a good one. But consider this argument: Some film stars are men. Cameron Diaz is a film star. Therefore, Cameron Diaz is a man. In this argument the premises do not support the conclusion, even though they are claimed to, and so the argument is not a good one. One of the most important tasks in the analysis of arguments is being able to distinguish premises from conclusions. If what is thought to be a conclusion is really a premise, and vice versa, the subsequent analysis cannot possibly be correct. Many arguments contain indicator words that provide clues in identifying premises and conclusion. Some typical conclusion indicators are therefore Accordingly entails that wherefore we may conclude hence thus it must be that it follows that consequently for this reason implies that we may infer So as a result Whenever a statement follows one of these indicators, it can usually be identified as the conclusion. By process of elimination the other statements in the argument are the premises. Example: Tortured prisoners will say anything just to relieve the pain. Consequently, torture is not a reliable method of interrogation. The conclusion of this argument is “Torture is not a reliable method of interrogation,” and the premise is “Tortured prisoners will say anything just to relieve the pain.” If an argument does not contain a conclusion indicator, it may contain a premise indicator. Some typical premise indicators are since in that seeing that as indicated by may be inferred from for the reason that because As inasmuch as for given that owing to Any statement following one of these indicators can usually be identified as a premise. Example: Expectant mothers should never use recreational drugs, since the use of these drugs can jeopardize the development of the fetus. The premise of this argument is “The use of these drugs can jeopardize the development of the fetus,” and the conclusion is “Expectant mothers should never use recreational drugs.” In reviewing the list of indicators, note that “for this reason” is a conclusion indicator, whereas “for the reason that” is a premise indicator. “For this reason” (except when followed by a colon) means for the reason (premise) that was just given, so what follows is the conclusion. On the other hand, “for the reason that” announces that a premise is about to be stated. Sometimes a single indicator can be used to identify more than one premise. Consider the following argument: It is vitally important that wilderness areas be preserved, for wilderness provides essential habitat for wildlife, including endangered species, and it is a natural retreat from the stress of daily life. The premise indicator “for” goes with both “Wilderness provides essential habitat for wildlife, including endangered species,” and “It is a natural retreat from the stress of daily life.” These are the premises. By method of elimination, “It is vitally important that wilderness areas be preserved” is the conclusion. Some arguments contain no indicators. With these, the reader/listener must ask such questions as: What single statement is claimed (implicitly) to follow from the others? What is the arguer trying to prove? What is the main point in the passage? The answers to these questions should point to the conclusion. Example: We must get serious about modernizing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Many of our bridges are practically falling down, and our transit system is in dire need of repair. Furthermore, making these improvements would create jobs for millions of workers. The conclusion of this argument is the first statement, and all of the other statements are premises. The argument illustrates the pattern found in most arguments that lack indicator words: The intended conclusion is stated first, and the remaining statements are then offered in support of this first statement. When the argument is restructured according to logical principles, however, the conclusion is always listed after the premises: : Many of our bridges are practically falling down. : Our transit system is in dire need of repair. : Making these improvements would create jobs for millions of workers. C: We must get serious about modernizing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. When restructuring arguments such as this, one should remain as close as possible to the original version, while at the same time attending to the requirement that premises and conclusion be complete sentences that are meaningful in the order in which they are listed. Note that the first two premises are included within the scope of a single sentence in the original argument. For the purposes of this chapter, compound arrangements of statements in which the various components are all claimed to be true will be considered as separate statements. Passages that contain arguments sometimes contain statements that are neither premises nor conclusions. Only statements that are actually intended to support the conclusion should be included in the list of premises. If, for example, a statement serves merely to introduce the general topic, or merely makes a passing comment, it should not be taken as part of the argument. Examples: The claim is often made that malpractice lawsuits drive up the cost of health care. But if such suits were outlawed or severely restricted, then patients would have no means of recovery for injuries caused by negligent doctors. Hence, the availability of malpractice litigation should be maintained intact. Massive federal deficits push up interest rates for everyone. Servicing the debt gobbles up a huge portion of the federal budget, which lowers our standard of living. And big deficits also weaken the value of the dollar. For these reasons, Congress must make a determined effort to cut overall spending and raise taxes. Politicians who ignore this reality imperil the future of the nation. In the first argument, the opening statement serves merely to introduce the topic, so it is not part of the argument. The premise is the second statement, and the conclusion is the last statement. In the second argument, the final statement merely makes a passing comment, so it is not part of the argument. The premises are the first three statements, and the statement following “for these reasons” is the conclusion. Closely related to the concepts of argument and statement are those of inference and proposition. An inference, in the narrow sense of the term, is the reasoning process expressed by an argument. In the broad sense of the term, “inference” is used interchangeably with “argument.” Analogously, a proposition, in the narrow sense, is the meaning or information content of a statement. For the purposes of this book, however, “proposition” and “statement” are used interchangeably. Note on the History of Logic The person who is generally credited as the father of logic is the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.). Aristotle’s predecessors had been interested in the art of constructing persuasive arguments and in techniques for refuting the arguments of others, but it was Aristotle who first devised systematic criteria for analyzing and evaluating arguments. Aristotle’s chief accomplishment is called syllogistic logic, a kind of logic in which the fundamental elements are terms, and arguments are evaluated as good or bad depending on how the terms are arranged in the argument. Chapters 4 and 5 of this textbook are devoted mainly to syllogistic logic. But Aristotle also deserves credit for originating modal logic, a kind of logic that involves such concepts as possibility, necessity, belief, and doubt. In addition, Aristotle catalogued several informal fallacies, a topic treated in Chapter 3 of this book. After Aristotle’s death, another Greek philosopher, Chrysippus (280–206 B.C.E.), one of the founders of the Stoic school, developed a logic in which the fundamental elements were whole propositions. Chrysippus treated every proposition as either true or false and developed rules for determining the truth or falsity of compound propositions from the truth or falsity of their components. In the course of doing so, he laid the foundation for the truth-functional interpretation of the logical connectives presented in Chapter 6 of this book and introduced the notion of natural deduction, treated in Chapter 7. For thirteen hundred years after the death of Chrysippus, relatively little creative work was done in logic. The physician Galen (C.E. 129–ca. 199) developed the theory of the compound categorical syllogism, but for the most part philosophers confined themselves to writing commentaries on the works of Aristotle and Chrysippus. Boethius (ca. 480–524) is a noteworthy example. The first major logician of the Middle Ages was Peter Abelard (1079–1142). Abelard reconstructed and refined the logic of Aristotle and Chrysippus as communicated by Boethius, and he originated a theory of universals that traced the universal character of general terms to concepts in the mind rather than to “natures” existing outside the mind, as Aristotle had held. In addition, Abelard distinguished arguments that are valid because of their form from those that are valid because of their content, but he held that only formal validity is the “perfect” or conclusive variety. This textbook follows Abelard on this point. After Abelard, the study of logic during the Middle Ages flourished through the work of numerous philosophers. A logical treatise by William of Sherwood (ca. 1200–1271) contains the first expression of the “Barbara, Celarent …” poem quoted in Section 5.1 of this book, and the Summulae Logicales of Peter of Spain (ca. 1205–1277) became the standard textbook in logic for three hundred years. However, the most original contributions from this period were made by William of Ockham (ca. 1285–1347). Ockham extended the theory of modal logic, conducted an exhaustive study of the forms of valid and invalid syllogisms, and further developed the idea of a metalanguage, a higher-level language used to discuss linguistic entities such as words, terms, and propositions. Toward the middle of the fifteenth century, a reaction set in against the logic of the Middle Ages. Rhetoric largely displaced logic as the primary focus of attention; the logic of Chrysippus, which had already begun to lose its unique identity in the Middle Ages, was ignored altogether, and the logic of Aristotle was studied only in highly simplistic presentations. A reawakening did not occur until two hundred years later through the work of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716). Leibniz, a genius in numerous fields, attempted to develop a symbolic language or “calculus” that could be used to settle all forms of disputes, whether in theology, philosophy, or international relations. As a result of this work, Leibniz is sometimes credited with being the father of symbolic logic. Leibniz’s efforts to symbolize logic were carried into the nineteenth century by Bernard Bolzano (1781–1848). In the middle of the nineteenth century, logic commenced an extremely rapid period of development that has continued to this day. Work in symbolic logic was done by many philosophers and mathematicians, including Augustus De Morgan (1806–1871), George Boole (1815–1864), William Stanley Jevons (1835–1882), and John Venn (1834–1923). The rule bearing De Morgan’s name is used in Chapter 7 of this book. Boole’s interpretation of categorical propositions and Venn’s method for diagramming them are covered in Chapters 4 and 5. At the same time a revival in inductive logic was initiated by the British philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), whose methods of induction are presented in Chapter 10. Across the Atlantic, the American philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce (1839–1914) developed a logic of relations, invented symbolic quantifiers, and suggested the truth-table method for formulas in propositional logic. These topics are covered in Chapters 6 and 8 of this book. The truth-table method was completed independently by Emil Post (1897–1954) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951). Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the foundations of modern mathematical logic were laid by Gottlob Frege (1848–1925). His Begriffsschrift sets forth the theory of quantification presented in Chapter 8 of this text. Frege’s work was continued into the twentieth century by Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and Bertrand Russell (1872–1970), whose monumental Principia Mathematica attempted to reduce the whole of pure mathematics to logic. The Principia is the source of much of the symbolism that appears in Chapters 6, 7, and 8 of this text. During the twentieth century, much of the work in logic focused on the formalization of logical systems and on questions dealing with the completeness and consistency of such systems. A now-famous theorem proved by Kurt Gödel (1906–1978) states that in any formal system adequate for number theory there exists an undecidable formula—that is, a formula such that neither it nor its negation is derivable from the axioms of the system. Other developments included multivalued logics and the formalization of modal logic. Most recently, logic has made a major contribution to technology by providing the conceptual foundation for the electronic circuitry of digital computers. 1.2Recognizing Arguments How Logical Are You? • Suppose a friend tells you that he believes life exists on other planets and it’s just a matter of time before someone proves it. You ask him why he believes this, and he replies, “This is my opinion, and I’m entitled to it. I have always held this view, and I have the right to think whatever I choose. You have your opinions, and I have mine. Yours are no better than mine.” Has your friend given you an argument? Why or why not? Answer Your friend has not given you an argument. Rather, what he has done is merely assert an opinion. In this section of the chapter you will learn the distinction between opinions and arguments. Not all passages contain arguments. Because logic deals with arguments, it is important to be able to distinguish passages that contain arguments from those that do not. In general, a passage contains an argument if it purports to prove something; if it does not do so, it does not contain an argument. In the previous section of this book we learned that every argument has at least one premise and exactly one conclusion. The premise or premises set forth the alleged evidence or reasons, and the conclusion asserts what is claimed to follow from the alleged evidence or reasons. This definition of an argument expresses what is needed for a passage to contain an argument: 1. At least one of the statements must claim to present evidence or reasons. 2. There must be a claim that the alleged evidence supports or implies something—that is, a claim that something follows from the alleged evidence or reasons. It is not necessary that the premises present actual evidence or true reasons nor that the premises actually support the conclusion. But at least the premises must claim to present evidence or reasons, and there must be a claim that the evidence or reasons support or imply something. Also, you should recognize that the second claim is not equatable with the intentions of the arguer. Intentions are subjective and, as such, are usually not accessible to the evaluator. Rather, this claim is an objective feature of an argument grounded in its language or structure. Eminent Logicians Aristotle 384–322 B.C.E. Aristotle was born in Stagira, a small Greek town situated on the northern coast of the Aegean Sea. His father was a physician in the court of King Amyntas II of Macedonia, and the young Aristotle was a friend of the king’s son Philip, who was later to become king himself and the father of Alexander the Great. When he was about seventeen, Aristotle was sent to Athens to further his education in Plato’s Academy, the finest institution of higher learning in the Greek world. After Plato’s death Aristotle left for Assos, a small town on the coast of Asia Minor, where he married the niece of the local ruler. Six years later Aristotle accepted an invitation to return to Macedonia to serve as tutor of the young Alexander. When Alexander ascended the throne following his father’s assassination, Aristotle’s tutorial job was finished, and he departed for Athens where he set up a school near the temple of Apollo Lyceus. The school came to be known as the Lyceum, and Alexander supported it with contributions of money and specimens of flora and fauna derived from his far-flung conquests. After Alexander’s death, an anti-Macedonian rebellion forced Aristotle to leave Athens for Chalcis, about thirty miles to the north, where he died one year later at the age of sixty-two. Aristotle is universally recognized as the originator of logic. He defined logic as the study of the process by which a statement follows by necessity from one or more other statements. The most fundamental kind of statement, he thought, is the categorical proposition, and he classified the four kinds of categorical propositions in terms of their being universal, particular, affirmative, and negative. He also developed the square of opposition, which shows how one such proposition implies the truth or falsity of another, and he identified the relations of conversion, obversion, and contraposition, which provide the basis for various immediate inferences. Mansell/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images His crowning achievement is the theory of the categorical syllogism, a kind of argument consisting of three categorical propositions. He showed how categorical syllogisms can be catalogued in terms of mood and figure, and he developed a set of rules for determining the validity of categorical syllogisms. Also, he showed how the modal concepts of possibility and necessity apply to categorical propositions. In addition to the theory of the syllogism, Aristotle advanced the theory of definition by genus and difference, and he showed how arguments could be defective in terms of thirteen forms of informal fallacy. Aristotle made profound contributions to many areas of human learning including biology, physics, metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, aesthetics, ethics, and politics. However, his accomplishments in logic were so extensive and enduring that two thousand years after his death, the great philosopher Immanuel Kant said that Aristotle had discovered everything that could be known about logic. His logic was not superseded until the end of the nineteenth century when Frege, Whitehead, and Russell developed modern mathematical logic. In deciding whether a passage contains an argument, the claim that the alleged reasons or evidence supports or implies something is usually the more important of the two. Such a claim can be either explicit or implicit. An explicit claim is usually asserted by premise or conclusion indicator words (“thus,” “since,” “because,” “hence,” “therefore,” and so on). Example: The Ebola virus has yet to be eradicated, and it kills on average 50 percent of those it infects. Thus, Ebola remains a threat to human health. The word “thus” expresses the claim that something is being inferred, so the passage is an argument. An implicit claim exists if there is an inferential relationship between the statements in a passage, but the passage contains no indicator words. Example: The genetic modification of food is risky business. Genetic engineering can introduce unintended changes into the DNA of the food-producing organism, and these changes can be toxic to the consumer. The inferential relationship between the first statement and the other two constitutes an implicit claim that evidence supports something, so we are justified in calling the passage an argument. The first statement is the conclusion, and the other two are the premises. In deciding whether there is a claim that evidence supports or implies something, keep an eye out for • (1) premise and conclusion indicator words and • (2) the presence of an inferential relationship between the statements. In connection with these points, however, a word of caution is in order. First, the mere occurrence of an indicator word by no means guarantees the presence of an argument. For example, consider the following passages: Since Edison invented the phonograph, there have been many technological innovations. Since Edison invented the phonograph, he deserves credit for a major technological innovation. In the first passage the word “since” is used in a temporal sense. It means “from the time that.” Thus, the first passage is not an argument. In the second passage “since” is used in a logical sense, and so the passage is an argument. The second cautionary point is that it is not always easy to detect the occurrence of an inferential relationship between the statements in a passage, and one may have to review a passage several times before making a decision. In reaching such a decision, one may find it helpful to mentally insert the word “therefore” before the various statements to see whether it makes sense to interpret one of them as following from the others. Even with this mental aid, however, the decision whether a passage contains an inferential relationship (as well as the decision about indicator words) often involves a heavy dose of interpretation. As a result, not everyone will agree about every passage. Sometimes the only answer possible is a conditional one: “If this passage contains an argument, then these are the premises and that is the conclusion.” To assist in distinguishing passages that contain arguments from those that do not, let us now investigate some typical kinds of nonarguments. These include simple noninferential passages, expository passages, illustrations, explanations, and conditional statements. Simple Noninferential Passages Simple noninferential passages are unproblematic passages that lack a claim that anything is being proved. Such passages contain statements that could be premises or conclusions (or both), but what is missing is a claim that any potential premise supports a conclusion or that any potential conclusion is supported by premises. Passages of this sort include warnings, pieces of advice, statements of belief or opinion, loosely associated statements, and reports. A warning is a form of expression that is intended to put someone on guard against a dangerous or detrimental situation. Examples: Watch out that you don’t slip on the ice. Whatever you do, never confide personal secrets to Blabbermouth Bob. If no evidence is given to prove that such statements are true, then there is no argument. A piece of advice is a form of expression that makes a recommendation about some future decision or course of conduct. Examples: You should keep a few things in mind before buying a used car. Test drive the car at varying speeds and conditions, examine the oil in the crankcase, ask to see service records, and, if possible, have the engine and power train checked by a mechanic. Before accepting a job after class hours, I would suggest that you give careful consideration to your course load. Will you have sufficient time to prepare for classes and tests, and will the job produce an excessive drain on your energies? As with warnings, if there is no evidence that is intended to prove anything, then there is no argument. A statement of belief or opinion is an expression about what someone happens to believe or think about something. Examples: We believe that our company must develop and produce outstanding products that will perform a great service or fulfill a need for our customers. We believe that our business must be run at an adequate profit and that the services and products we offer must be better than those offered by competitors. (Robert D. Hay and Edmund R. Gray, “Introduction to Social Responsibility”) When I can read the latte menu through the hole in my server’s earlobe, something is seriously out of whack. What happened to an earring, maybe two, in each lobe? Now any surface is game. Brow, lip, tongue, cheek, nose. I’ve adjusted to untied shoelaces and pants that make mooning irrelevant. But when it comes to piercings, I just can’t budge. (Debra Darvick, “Service with a Smile, and Plenty of Metal”) Because neither of these statements asserts any claim that a belief or opinion is supported by evidence, or that it supports some conclusion, there is no argument. Loosely associated statements may be about the same general subject, but they lack a claim that one of them is proved by the others. Example: Not to honor men of worth will keep the people from contention; not to value goods that are hard to come by will keep them from theft; not to display what is desirable will keep them from being unsettled of mind. (Lao-Tzu, Thoughts from the Tao Te Ching) Because there is no claim that any of these statements provides evidence or reasons for believing another, there is no argument. A report consists of a group of statements that convey information about some topic or event. Example: The period of 1648–1789 was one of competition among the primary monarchs of Europe. Wars among the great powers were frequent but limited. France made major efforts to become paramount, but the balance of power operated to block French expansion. (Steven L. Spiegel, World Politics in a New Era) These statements could serve as the premises of an argument, but because the author makes no claim that they support or imply anything, there is no argument. Another type of report is the news report: Witnesses said they heard a loud crack before a balcony gave way at a popular nightspot, dropping dozens of screaming people fourteen feet. At least eighty people were injured at the Diamond Horseshoe casino when they fell onto broken glass and splintered wood. Investigators are waiting for an engineer’s report on the deck’s occupancy load. (Newspaper clipping) Again, because the reporter makes no claim that these statements imply anything, there is no argument. One must be careful, though, with reports about arguments: “The Air Force faces a serious shortage of experienced pilots in the years ahead, because repeated overseas tours and the allure of high-paying jobs with commercial airlines are winning out over lucrative bonuses to stay in the service,” says a prominent Air Force official. (Newspaper clipping) Properly speaking, this passage is not an argument, because the author of the passage does not claim that anything is supported by evidence. Rather, the author reports the claim by the Air Force official that something is supported by evidence. If such passages are interpreted as “containing” arguments, it must be made clear that the argument is not the author’s but one made by someone about whom the author is reporting. Expository Passages An expository passage is a kind of discourse that begins with a topic sentence followed by one or more sentences that develop the topic sentence. If the objective is not to prove the topic sentence but only to expand it or elaborate it, then there is no argument. Examples: There are three familiar states of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Solid objects ordinarily maintain their shape and volume regardless of their location. A liquid occupies a definite volume, but assumes the shape of the occupied portion of its container. A gas maintains neither shape nor volume. It expands to fill completely whatever container it is in. (John W. Hill and Doris K. Kolb, Chemistry for Changing Times, 7th ed.) There is a stylized relation of artist to mass audience in the sports, especially in baseball. Each player develops a style of his own—the swagger as he steps to the plate, the unique windup a pitcher has, the clean-swinging and hard-driving hits, the precision quickness and grace of infield and outfield, the sense of surplus power behind whatever is done. (Max Lerner, America as a Civilization) In each passage the topic sentence is stated first, and the remaining sentences merely develop and flesh out this topic sentence. These passages are not arguments, because they lack an inferential claim. However, expository passages differ from simple noninferential passages (such as warnings and pieces of advice) in that many of them can also be taken as arguments. If the purpose of the subsequent sentences in the passage is not only to flesh out the topic sentence but also to prove it, then the passage is an argument. Example: Skin and the mucous membrane lining the respiratory and digestive tracts serve as mechanical barriers to entry by microbes. Oil-gland secretions contain chemicals that weaken or kill bacteria on skin. The respiratory tract is lined by cells that sweep mucus and trapped particles up into the throat, where they can be swallowed. The stomach has an acidic pH, which inhibits the growth of many types of bacteria. (Sylvia S. Mader, Human Biology, 4th ed.) In this passage the topic sentence is stated first, and the purpose of the remaining sentences is not only to show how the skin and mucous membranes serve as barriers to microbes but also to prove that they do this. Thus, the passage can be taken as both an expository passage and an argument. In deciding whether an expository passage should be interpreted as an argument, try to determine whether the purpose of the subsequent sentences in the passage is merely to develop the topic sentence or also to prove that it is true. In borderline cases, ask yourself whether the topic sentence makes a claim that everyone accepts or agrees with. If it does, the passage is probably not an argument. In real-life situations authors rarely try to prove something is true when everyone already accepts it. However, if the topic sentence makes a claim that many people do not accept or have never thought about, then the purpose of the remaining sentences may be both to prove the topic sentence is true as well as to develop it. If this is so, the passage is an argument. Finally, if even this procedure yields no definite answer, the only alternative may be to say that if the passage is taken as an argument, then the first statement is the conclusion and the others are the premises. Illustrations An illustration is an expression involving one or more examples that is intended to show what something means or how it is done. Illustrations are often confused with arguments because many illustrations contain indicator words such as “thus.” Examples: Chemical elements, as well as compounds, can be represented by molecular formulas. Thus, oxygen is represented by “,” water by “,” and sodium chloride by “.” A deciduous tree is any tree that loses its leaves during the winter. For example, maples are deciduous. And so are elms, poplars, hawthorns, and alders. These selections are not arguments, because they make no claim that anything is being proved. In the first selection, the word “thus” indicates how something is done—namely, how chemical elements and compounds can be represented by formulas. In the second, the examples cited are intended to illustrate the meaning of the word “deciduous.” It pins down the meaning by providing concrete instances. However, as with expository passages, many illustrations can be taken as arguments. Such arguments are often called arguments from example. Here is an instance of one: Although most forms of cancer, if untreated, can cause death, not all cancers are life threatening. For example, basal cell carcinoma, the most common of all skin cancers, can produce disfigurement, but it almost never results in death. In this passage the example given is intended to prove the truth of “Not all cancers are life threatening.” Thus, the passage is best interpreted as an argument. In deciding whether an illustration should be interpreted as an argument, determine whether the passage merely shows how something is done or what something means, or whether it also purports to prove something. In borderline cases it helps to note whether the claim being illustrated is one that practically everyone accepts or agrees with. If it is, the passage is probably not an argument. As already noted, in real-life situations authors rarely attempt to prove what everyone already accepts. But if the claim being illustrated is one that many people do not accept or have never thought about, then the passage may be interpreted as an argument. Thus, in reference to the first two examples we considered, most people are aware that elements and compounds can be expressed by formulas—practically everyone knows that water is —and most people have at least a vague idea of what a deciduous tree is. But they may not have ever considered whether some forms of cancer are not life threatening. This is one of the reasons for evaluating the first two examples as mere illustrations and the last one as an argument. Explanations One of the most important kinds of nonargument is the explanation. An explanation is an expression that purports to shed light on some event or phenomenon. The event or phenomenon in question is usually accepted as a matter of fact. Examples: The sky appears blue from the earth’s surface because light rays from the sun are scattered by particles in the atmosphere. Golf balls have a dimpled surface because the dimples reduce air drag, causing the ball to travel farther. Navel oranges are called by that name because they have a growth that resembles a human navel on the end opposite the stem. Every explanation is composed of two distinct components: the explanandum and explanans. The explanandum is the statement that describes the event or phenomenon to be explained, and the explanans is the statement or group of statements that purports to do the explaining. In the first example, the explanandum is the statement “The sky appears blue from the earth’s surface” and the explanans is “Light rays from the sun are scattered by particles in the atmosphere.” Explanations are sometimes mistaken for arguments because they often contain the indicator word “because.” Yet explanations are not arguments, because in an explanation the purpose of the explanans is to shed light on, or to make sense of, the explanandum event—not to prove that it occurred. In other words, the purpose of the explanans is to show why something is the case, whereas in an argument, the purpose of the premises is to prove that something is the case. In the first example given, the fact that the sky is blue is readily apparent to everyone. The statement that light rays from the sun are scattered by particles in the atmosphere is not intended to prove that the sky is blue, but rather to show why it is blue. In the second example, practically everyone knows that golf balls have a dimpled surface. The purpose of the passage is to explain why they have a dimpled surface—not to prove that they do. Similarly, in the third example, it is obvious that naval oranges are called naval oranges. The purpose of the passage is to shed light on why they have this name. Thus, to distinguish explanations from arguments, identify the statement that is either the explanandum or the conclusion (usually this is the statement that precedes the word “because”). If this statement describes an accepted matter of fact, and if the remaining statements purport to shed light on this statement, then the passage is an explanation. This method usually works to distinguish arguments from explanations. However, some passages can be interpreted as both explanations and arguments. Examples: Women become intoxicated by drinking a smaller amount of alcohol than men because men metabolize part of the alcohol before it reaches the bloodstream, whereas women do not. Household bleach should never be mixed with ammonia because the combination releases chlorine gas, which is highly poisonous. The purpose of these passages could be to prove the first statement to those who do not accept it as fact, and to shed light on that fact to those who do accept it. Alternately, the passage could be intended to prove the first statement to a person who accepts its truth on blind faith or incomplete experience, and simultaneously to shed light on this truth. Thus, these passages can be correctly interpreted as both an explanation and an argument. Perhaps the greatest problem confronting the effort to distinguish explanations from arguments lies in determining whether something is an accepted matter of fact. Obviously, what is accepted by one person may not be accepted by another. Thus, the effort often involves determining which person or group of people the passage is directed to—the intended audience. Sometimes the source of the passage (textbook, newspaper, technical journal, etc.) will decide the issue. But when the passage is taken totally out of context, ascertaining the source may prove impossible. In those circumstances the only possible answer may be to say that if the passage is an argument, then such-and-such is the conclusion and such-and-such are the premises. Conditional Statements A conditional statement is an “if … then …” statement; for example: If professional football games incite violence in the home, then the widespread approval given to this sport should be reconsidered. If Roger Federer has played in more Grand Slam finals than any other contender, then he rightfully deserves the title of world’s greatest tennis player. Every conditional statement is made up of two component statements. The component statement immediately following the “if” is called the antecedent, and the one following the “then” is called the consequent. (Occasionally, the word “then” is left out, and occasionally the order of antecedent and consequent is reversed.) In the first example, the antecedent is “Professional football games incite violence in the home,” and the consequent is “The widespread approval given to this sport should be reconsidered.” In both of these examples, there is a meaningful relationship between antecedent and consequent. However, such a relationship need not exist for a statement to count as conditional. The statement “If Taylor Swift is a singer, then Denver is in Colorado” is just as much a conditional statement as those about professional football and Roger Federer. Conditional statements are not arguments, because they fail to meet the criteria given earlier. In an argument, at least one statement must claim to present evidence, and there must be a claim that this evidence implies something. In a conditional statement, there is no claim that either the antecedent or the consequent presents evidence. In other words, there is no assertion that either the antecedent or the consequent is true. Rather, there is only the assertion that if the antecedent is true, then so is the consequent. Of course, a conditional statement as a whole may present evidence because it asserts a relationship between statements. Yet when conditional statements are taken in this sense, there is still no argument, because there is then no separate claim that this evidence implies anything. Some conditional statements are similar to arguments, however, in that they express the outcome of a reasoning process. As such, they may be said to have a certain inferential content. Consider the following: If sugary drinks cause heart disease and diabetes, then sugary drinks should be regulated. The link between the antecedent and consequent resembles the inferential link between the premises and conclusion of an argument. Yet there is a difference because the premises of an argument are claimed to be true, whereas no such claim is made for the antecedent of a conditional statement. Accordingly, conditional statements are not arguments. Yet their inferential content may be reexpressed to form arguments: Sugary drinks cause heart disease and diabetes. Therefore, sugary drinks should be regulated. Finally, while no single conditional statement is an argument, a conditional statement may serve as either the premise or the conclusion (or both) of an argument, as the following examples illustrate: If North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, then North Korea is a threat to world peace. North Korea is developing nuclear weapons. Therefore, North Korea is a threat to world peace. If our borders are porous, then terrorists can enter the country at will. If terrorists can enter the country at will, then all of us are less secure. Therefore, if our borders are porous, then all of us are less secure. The relation between conditional statements and arguments may now be summarized as follows: 1. A single conditional statement is not an argument. 2. A conditional statement may serve as either the premise or the conclusion (or both) of an argument. 3. The inferential content of a conditional statement may be reexpressed to form an argument. The first two rules are especially pertinent to the recognition of arguments. According to the first rule, if a passage consists of a single conditional statement, it is not an argument. But if it consists of a conditional statement together with some other statement, then, by the second rule, it may be an argument, depending on such factors as the presence of indicator words and an inferential relationship between the statements. Conditional statements are especially important in logic (and many other fields) because they express the relationship between necessary and sufficient conditions. A is said to be a sufficient condition for B whenever the occurrence of A is all that is needed for the occurrence of B. For example, being a dog is a sufficient condition for being an animal. On the other hand, B is said to be a necessary condition for A whenever A cannot occur without the occurrence of B. Thus, being an animal is a necessary condition for being a dog. The difference between sufficient and necessary conditions is a bit tricky. So, to clarify the idea further, suppose you are given a large, closed cardboard box. Also, suppose you are told there is a dog in the box. Then you know for sure there is an animal in the box. No additional information is needed to draw this conclusion. This means that being a dog is sufficient for being an animal. However, being a dog is not necessary for being an animal, because if you are told that the box contains a cat, you can conclude with equal certainty that it contains an animal. In other words, it is not necessary for the box to contain a dog for it to contain an animal. It might equally well contain a cat, a mouse, a squirrel, or any other animal. On the other hand, suppose you are told that whatever might be in the box, it is not an animal. Then you know for certain there is no dog in the box. The reason you can draw this conclusion is that being an animal is necessary for being a dog. If there is no animal, there is no dog. However, being an animal is not sufficient for being a dog, because if you are told that the box contains an animal, you cannot, from this information alone, conclude that it contains a dog. It might contain a cat, a mouse, a squirrel, and so on. These ideas are expressed in the following conditional statements: If X is a dog, then X is an animal. If X is not an animal, then X is not a dog. The first statement says that being a dog is a sufficient condition for being an animal, and the second that being an animal is a necessary condition for being a dog. However, a little reflection reveals that these two statements say exactly the same thing. Thus, each expresses in one way a necessary condition and in another way a sufficient condition. The terminology of sufficient and necessary conditions will be used in later chapters to express definitions and causal connections. 1.3Deduction and Induction How Logical Are You? • Recreational marijuana is not legal in your state, but there is a referendum coming up that would make it legal. You do some research and find that every state that has legalized recreational marijuana up to that date is a politically “blue” state. But your state is “red”—and becoming even more so. You conclude that your state will not be legalizing marijuana any time soon. Does your conclusion follow with certainty? If not, does it follow with probability? Answer Your conclusion does not follow with certainty, but it does follow with probability. The inference depends on the causal connection between being Republican and the tendency to resist the legalization of marijuana. In this section of the chapter, you will learn that causal inferences are probabilistic and are called inductive. On the other hand, arguments having conclusions that follow with certainty are deductive. The idea that arguments come in two forms, deductive and inductive, was first asserted by Aristotle. In the intervening centuries, deduction and induction have become a settled fixture not only in logic but in our intellectual culture. Countless books, both fiction and nonfiction, have referred to it. Einstein wrote a paper on it. And a huge number of textbooks ranging from philosophy to education, business to psychology, and chemistry to anthropology explore the subject. So what is the difference between a deductive and an inductive argument? Briefly we can say that deductive arguments are those that rest on necessary reasoning, while inductive arguments are those that rest on probabilistic reasoning. Ruth Barcan Marcus 1921–2012 Ruth Barcan was born in New York City in 1921. Her mother was a homemaker, and her father a typesetter at, and contributor to, the Jewish Daily Forward. After completing her primary and secondary education at public schools, she enrolled in New York University, where, in addition to her academic pursuits, she won praise as an outstanding fencer. In 1941 she earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and philosophy, and five years later she received a PhD in philosophy from Yale University. In 1942 she married Jules Alexander Marcus, a physicist, and the couple had four children, two boys and two girls. After graduating from Yale, Barcan Marcus’s early career was spent holding several postdoctoral fellowships (including a Guggenheim) and visiting professorships. In 1959 she accepted a position at Roosevelt University, followed by positions at the University of Illinois, Chicago (where she was founding department chair) and Northwestern University. In 1973 she returned to Yale as professor of philosophy. Commencing early in her career, Barcan Marcus made pioneering contributions to the area of quantified modal logic. She proposed, as an axiom, the widely discussed Barcan formula, which asserts, in symbols, (x)□Fx ﬤ□(x)Fx. In English, this means that if everything is necessarily F, then it is necessary that everything is F. The formula is controversial because it implies that all objects that exist in every possible world exist in the actual world. This could be taken to imply that nothing new can be created. Courtesy Michael Marsland Personally, Ruth Barcan Marcus was fearless, down to earth, unpretentious, and a constant supporter of others. She had a great sense of humor—and she was also endearingly absentminded. On one occasion, while in the midst of a frantic search, she received a call from the local supermarket informing her that her final exams had been found amid the frozen meats. Stated more precisely, a deductive argument is an argument incorporating the claim that it is impossible for the conclusion to be false given that the premises are true. On the other hand, an inductive argument is an argument incorporating the claim that it is improbable that the conclusion be false given that the premises are true. Two examples: The meerkat is closely related to the suricat. The suricat thrives on beetle larvae. Therefore, probably the meerkat thrives on beetle larvae. The meerkat is a member of the mongoose family. All members of the mongoose family are carnivores. Therefore, it necessarily follows that the meerkat is a carnivore. The first of these arguments is inductive, the second deductive. In deciding whether an argument is inductive or deductive, we look to certain objective features of the argument. These features include • (1) the occurrence of special indicator words, • (2) the actual strength of the inferential link between premises and conclusion, and • (3) the form or style of argumentation. However, we must acknowledge at the outset that many arguments in ordinary language are incomplete, and because of this, deciding whether the argument should best be interpreted as deductive or inductive may be impossible. The occurrence of special indicator words is illustrated in the examples we just considered. The word “probably” in the conclusion of the first argument suggests that the argument should be taken as inductive, and the word “necessarily” in the conclusion of the second suggests that the second argument be taken as deductive. Additional inductive indicators are “improbable,” “plausible,” “implausible,” “likely,” “unlikely,” and “reasonable to conclude.” Additional deductive indicators are “certainly,” “absolutely,” and “definitely.” (Note that the phrase “it must be the case that” is simply a conclusion indicator that can occur in either deductive or inductive argments.) Inductive and deductive indicator words often suggest the correct interpretation. However, if they conflict with one of the other criteria (discussed shortly), we should probably ignore them. Arguers often use phrases such as “it certainly follows that” for rhetorical purposes to add impact to their conclusion and not to suggest that the argument be taken as deductive. Similarly, some arguers, not knowing the distinction between inductive and deductive, will claim to “deduce” a conclusion when their argument is more correctly interpreted as inductive. The second factor that bears on our interpretation of an argument as inductive or deductive is the actual strength of the inferential link between premises and conclusion. If the conclusion actually does follow with strict necessity from the premises, the argument is clearly deductive. In such an argument it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. On the other hand, if the conclusion does not follow with strict necessity but does follow probably, it is often best to consider the argument inductive. Examples: All entertainers are extroverts. Stephen Colbert is an entertainer. Therefore, Stephen Colbert is an extrovert. The vast majority of entertainers are extroverts. Stephen Colbert is an entertainer. Therefore, Stephen Colbert is an extrovert. In the first example, the conclusion follows with strict necessity from the premises. If we assume that all entertainers are extroverts and that Stephen Colbert is an entertainer, then it is impossible that Stephen Colbert not be an extrovert. Thus, we should interpret this argument as deductive. In the second example, the conclusion does not follow from the premises with strict necessity, but it does follow with some degree of probability. If we assume that the premises are true, then based on that assumption it is probable that the conclusion is true. Thus, it is best to interpret the second argument as inductive. Occasionally, an argument contains no special indicator words, and the conclusion does not follow either necessarily or probably from the premises; in other words, it does not follow at all. This situation points to the need for the third factor to be taken into account, which is the character or form of argumentation the arguer uses. Deductive Argument Forms Many arguments have a distinctive character or form that indicates that the premises are supposed to provide absolute support for the conclusion. Five examples of such forms or kinds of argumentation are arguments based on mathematics, arguments from definition, and categorical, hypothetical, and disjunctive syllogisms. An argument based on mathematics is an argument in which the conclusion depends on some purely arithmetic or geometric computation or measurement. For example, a shopper might place two apples and three oranges into a paper bag and then conclude that the bag contains five pieces of fruit. Or a surveyor might measure a square piece of land and, after determining that it is 100 feet on each side, conclude that it contains 10,000 square feet. Since all arguments in pure mathematics are deductive, we can usually consider arguments that depend on mathematics to be deductive as well. However, arguments that depend on statistics are a noteworthy exception. As we will see shortly, such arguments are usually best interpreted as inductive. An argument from definition is an argument in which the conclusion is claimed to depend merely on the definition of some word or phrase used in the premise or conclusion. For example, someone might argue that because Claudia is mendacious, it follows that she tells lies, or that because a certain paragraph is prolix, it follows that it is excessively wordy. These arguments are deductive because their conclusions follow with necessity from the definitions of “mendacious” and “prolix.” A syllogism, in general, is an argument consisting of exactly two premises and one conclusion. Categorical syllogisms will be treated in greater depth in Chapter 5, but for now we will say that a categorical syllogism is a syllogism in which each statement begins with one of the words “all,” “no,” or “some.” Example: All ancient forests are sources of wonder. Some ancient forests are targets of the timber industry. Therefore, some sources of wonder are targets of the timber industry. Arguments such as these are nearly always best treated as deductive. A hypothetical syllogism is a syllogism having a conditional (“if … then”) statement for one or both of its premises. Examples: If estate taxes are abolished, then wealth will accumulate disproportionately. If wealth accumulates disproportionately, then democracy will be threatened. Therefore, if estate taxes are abolished, then democracy will be threatened. If Fox News is a propaganda machine, then it misleads its viewers. Fox News is a propaganda machine. Therefore, Fox News misleads its viewers. Later in this book, the first of these arguments will be given the more specific name of pure hypothetical syllogism because it is composed exclusively of conditional (hypothetical) statements. The second argument is called a mixed hypothetical syllogism because only one of its component statements is a conditional. Later in this book, the second argument will be given the more specific Latin name modus ponens. A disjunctive syllogism is a syllogism having a disjunctive (“either … or…”) statement. Example: Either global warming will be arrested, or hurricanes will become more intense. Global warming will not be arrested. Therefore, hurricanes will become more intense. As with hypothetical syllogisms, such arguments are usually best taken as deductive. Hypothetical and disjunctive syllogisms will be treated in greater depth in Chapter 6. Inductive Argument Forms In general, inductive arguments are such that the content of the conclusion is in some way intended to “go beyond” the content of the premises. The premises of such an argument typically deal with some subject that is relatively familiar, and the conclusion then moves beyond this to a subject that is less familiar or that little is known about. Such an argument may take any of several forms: predictions about the future, arguments from analogy, inductive generalizations, arguments from authority, arguments based on signs, and causal inferences, to name just a few. A prediction is an argument that proceeds from our knowledge of the past to a claim about the future. For example, someone might argue that because certain meteorological phenomena have been observed to develop over a certain region of central Missouri, a storm will occur there in six hours. Or again, one might argue that because certain fluctuations occurred in the prime interest rate on Friday, the value of the dollar will decrease against foreign currencies on Monday. Nearly everyone realizes that the future cannot be known with certainty; thus, whenever an argument makes a prediction about the future, one is usually justified in considering the argument inductive. An argument from analogy is an argument that depends on the existence of an analogy, or similarity, between two things or states of affairs. Because of the existence of this analogy, a certain condition that affects the better-known thing or situation is concluded to affect the similar, lesser-known thing or situation. For example, someone might argue that because Christina’s Porsche is a great-handling car, it follows that Angela’s Porsche must also be a great-handling car. The argument depends on the existence of a similarity, or analogy, between the two cars. The certitude attending such an inference is probabilistic at best. A generalization is an argument that proceeds from the knowledge of a selected sample to some claim about the whole group. Because the members of the sample have a certain characteristic, it is argued that all the members of the group have that same characteristic. For example, one might argue that because three oranges selected from a certain crate were especially tasty and juicy, all the oranges from that crate are especially tasty and juicy. Or again, one might argue that because six out of a total of nine members sampled from a certain labor union intend to vote for Johnson for union president, two-thirds of the entire membership intend to vote for Johnson. These examples illustrate the use of statistics in inductive argumentation. An argument from authority is an argument that concludes something is true because a presumed expert or witness has said that it is. For example, a person might argue that earnings for Hewlett-Packard Corporation will be up in the coming quarter because of a statement to that effect by an investment counselor. Or a lawyer might argue that Mack the Knife committed the murder because an eyewitness testified to that effect under oath. Because the investment counselor and the eyewitness could be either mistaken or lying, such arguments are essentially probabilistic. An argument based on signs is an argument that proceeds from the knowledge of a sign to a claim about the thing or situation that the sign symbolizes. The word “sign,” as it is used here, means any kind of message (usually visual) produced by an intelligent being. For example, when driving on an unfamiliar highway one might see a sign indicating that the road makes several sharp turns one mile ahead. Based on this information, one might argue that the road does indeed make several sharp turns one mile ahead. Because the sign might be misplaced or in error about the turns, the conclusion is only probable. A causal inference is an argument that proceeds from knowledge of a cause to a claim about an effect, or, conversely, from knowledge of an effect to a claim about a cause. For example, from the knowledge that a bottle of wine had been accidentally left in the freezer overnight, someone might conclude that it had frozen (cause to effect). Conversely, after tasting a piece of chicken and finding it dry and tough, one might conclude that it had been overcooked (effect to cause). Because specific instances of cause and effect can never be known with absolute certainty, one may usually interpret such arguments as inductive. Further Considerations It should be noted that the various subspecies of inductive arguments listed here are not intended to be mutually exclusive. Overlaps can and do occur. For example, many causal inferences that proceed from cause to effect also qualify as predictions. The purpose of this survey is not to demarcate in precise terms the various forms of induction but rather to provide guidelines for distinguishing induction from deduction. Keeping this in mind, we should take care not to confuse arguments in geometry, which are always deductive, with arguments from analogy or inductive generalizations. For example, an argument concluding that a triangle has a certain attribute (such as a right angle) because another triangle, with which it is congruent, also has that attribute might be mistaken for an argument from analogy. Similarly, an argument that concludes that all triangles have a certain attribute (such as angles totaling two right angles) because any particular triangle has that attribute might be mistaken for an inductive generalization. Arguments such as these, however, are always deductive, because the conclusion follows necessarily and with complete certainty from the premises. One broad classification of arguments not listed in this survey is scientific arguments. Arguments that occur in science can be either inductive or deductive, depending on the circumstances. In general, arguments aimed at the discovery of a law of nature are usually considered inductive. Suppose, for example, that we want to discover a law that governs the time required for a falling body to strike the earth. We drop bodies of various weights from various heights and measure the time it takes them to fall. Comparing our measurements, we notice that the time is approximately proportional to the square root of the distance. From this we conclude that the time required for any body to fall is proportional to the square root of the distance through which it falls. Such an argument is best interpreted as an inductive generalization. Another type of argument that occurs in science has to do with the application of known laws to specific circumstances. Scientific laws are widely considered to be generalizations that hold for all times and all places. As so understood, their application to a specific situation is always deductive, even though it might relate to the future. Suppose, for example, that we want to apply Boyle’s law for ideal gases to a container of gas in our laboratory. Boyle’s law states that the pressure exerted by a gas on the walls of its container is inversely proportional to the volume. Applying this law, we conclude that when we reduce the volume of our laboratory sample by half, the pressure will double. This application of Boyle’s law is deductive, even though it pertains to the future. A final point needs to be made about the distinction between inductive and deductive arguments. There is a tradition extending back to the time of Aristotle that holds that inductive arguments are those that proceed from the particular to the general, while deductive arguments are those that proceed from the general to the particular. (A particular statement is one that makes a claim about one or more particular members of a class, while a general statement makes a claim about all the members of a class.) It is true, of course, that many inductive and deductive arguments do work in this way; but this fact should not be used as a criterion for distinguishing induction from deduction. As a matter of fact, there are deductive arguments that proceed from the general to the general, from the particular to the particular, and from the particular to the general, as well as from the general to the particular; and there are inductive arguments that do the same. For example, here is a deductive argument that proceeds from the particular to the general: Three is a prime number. Five is a prime number. Seven is a prime number. Therefore, all odd numbers between two and eight are prime numbers. And here is one that proceeds from the particular to the particular: Gabriel is a wolf. Gabriel has a tail. Therefore, Gabriel’s tail is the tail of a wolf. Here is an inductive argument that proceeds from the general to the particular: All emeralds previously found have been green. Therefore, the next emerald to be found will be green. The other varieties are easy to construct. Thus, the progression from particular to general, and vice versa, cannot be used as a criterion for distinguishing induction from deduction. 1.4Validity, Truth, Soundness, Strength, Cogency How Logical Are You? • Instagram does not allow the posting of photos. Therefore, you will not be allowed to post any of your selfies on Instagram, and you will not be able to see any photos of your friends on Instagram. Does this conclusion follow from the premise? Why or why not? Answer The conclusion does follow from the premise. If you assume the premise is true, the conclusion follows with certainty. However, the premise is actually false. Instagram does allow the posting of photos. In this section of the chapter you will learn how to analyze and classify arguments such as this one. This section introduces the central ideas and terminology needed to evaluate arguments—to distinguish good arguments from bad arguments. Regardless of the type of argument, whether deductive or inductive, the evaluation of any argument involves answering two distinct questions: • (1) Do the premises support the conclusion? • (2) Are all the premises true? The answer to the first question is the more important one, because if the premises fail to support the conclusion (that is, if the reasoning is bad), the argument is worthless. The material that follows first considers deductive arguments and then inductive. Deductive Arguments The previous section defined a deductive argument as one incorporating the claim that it is impossible for the conclusion to be false given that the premises are true. If this claim is true, the argument is said to be valid. Thus, a valid deductive argument is an argument in which it is impossible for the conclusion to be false given that the premises are true. In these arguments the conclusion follows with strict necessity from the premises. Conversely, an invalid deductive argument is a deductive argument in which it is possible for the conclusion to be false given that the premises are true. In these arguments the conclusion does not follow with strict necessity from the premises, even though it is claimed to. An immediate consequence of these definitions is that there is no middle ground between valid and invalid. There are no arguments that are “almost” valid and “almost” invalid. If the conclusion follows with strict necessity from the premises, the argument is valid; if not, it is invalid. To test an argument for validity we begin by assuming that all the premises are true, and then we determine if it is possible, in light of that assumption, for the conclusion to be false. Here is an example: All television networks are media companies. NBC is a television network. Therefore, NBC is a media company. In this argument both premises are actually true, so it is easy to assume that they are true. Next we determine, in light of this assumption, if it is possible for the conclusion to be false. Clearly this is not possible. If NBC is included in the group of television networks (second premise) and if the group of television networks is included in the group of media companies (first premise), it necessarily follows that NBC is included in the group of media companies (conclusion). In other words, assuming the premises to be true and the conclusion false entails a strict contradiction. Thus, the argument is valid. Here is another example: All automakers are computer manufacturers. United Airlines is an automaker. Therefore, United Airlines is a computer manufacturer. In this argument, both premises are actually false, but it is easy to assume that they are true. Every automaker could have a corporate division that manufactures computers. Also, in addition to flying airplanes, United Airlines could make cars. Next, in light of these assumptions, we determine if it is possible for the conclusion to be false. Again, we see that this is not possible, by the same reasoning as the previous example. Assuming the premises to be true and the conclusion false entails a contradiction. Thus, the argument is valid. Another example: All banks are financial institutions. Wells Fargo is a financial institution. Therefore, Wells Fargo is a bank. As in the first example, both premises of this argument are true, so it is easy to assume they are true. Next we determine, in light of this assumption, if it is possible for the conclusion to be false. In this case it is possible. If banks were included in one part of the group of financial institutions and Wells Fargo were included in another part, then Wells Fargo would not be a bank. In other words, assuming the premises to be true and the conclusion false does not involve any contradiction, and so the argument is invalid. In addition to illustrating the basic idea of validity, these examples suggest an important point about validity and truth. In general, validity is not something that is uniformly determined by the actual truth or falsity of the premises and conclusion. Both the NBC example and the Wells Fargo example have actually true premises and an actually true conclusion, yet one is valid and the other invalid. The United Airlines example has actually false premises and an actually false conclusion, yet the argument is valid. Rather, validity is something that is determined by the relationship between premises and conclusion. The question is not whether the premises and conclusion are true or false, but whether the premises support the conclusion. In the examples of valid arguments the premises do support the conclusion, and in the invalid case they do not. Nevertheless, there is one arrangement of truth and falsity in the premises and conclusion that does determine the issue of validity. Any deductive argument having actually true premises and an actually false conclusion is invalid. The reasoning behind this fact is fairly obvious. If the premises are actually true and the conclusion is actually false, then it certainly is possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. Thus, by the definition of invalidity, the argument is invalid. The idea that any deductive argument having actually true premises and a false conclusion is invalid may be the most important point in all of deductive logic. The entire system of deductive logic would be quite useless if it accepted as valid any inferential process by which a person could start with truth in the premises and arrive at falsity in the conclusion. Table 1.1 presents examples of categorical syllogisms (deductive arguments) that illustrate the various combinations of truth and falsity in the premises and conclusion. In the examples having false premises, both premises are false, but it is easy to construct other examples having only one false premise. When examining this table, note that the only combination of truth and falsity that does not allow for both valid and invalid arguments is true premises and false conclusion. As we have just seen, any argument having this combination is necessarily invalid. Table 1.1 Deductive Arguments Valid Invalid True premises All flowers are plants. All daisies are flowers. All flowers are plants. All daisies are plants. True conclusion Therefore, all daisies are plants. [sound] Therefore, all daisies are flowers. [unsound] True premises None exist All roses are flowers. All daisies are flowers. False conclusion Therefore, all daisies are roses. [unsound] False premises All flowers are dogs. All poodles are flowers. All dogs are flowers. All poodles are flowers. True conclusion Therefore, all poodles are dogs. [unsound] Therefore, all poodles are dogs. [unsound] False premises All flowers are dogs. All tigers are flowers. All roses are cats. All daisies are cats. False conclusion Therefore, all tigers are dogs. [unsound] Therefore, all daisies are roses. [unsound] The relationship between the validity of a deductive argument and the truth or falsity of its premises and conclusion, as illustrated in Table 1.1, is summarized as follows: Premises Conclusion Validity T T ? T F Invalid F T ? F F ? This short summary table reinforces the point that merely knowing the truth or falsity of the premises and conclusion tells us nothing about validity except in the one case of true premises and false conclusion. Any deductive argument having true premises and a false conclusion is necessarily invalid. A sound argument is a deductive argument that is valid and has all true premises. Both conditions must be met for an argument to be sound; if either is missing the argument is unsound. Thus, an unsound argument is a deductive argument that is invalid, has one or more false premises, or both. Because a valid argument is one such that it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false, and because a sound argument does in fact have true premises, it follows that every sound argument, by definition, will have a true conclusion as well. A sound argument, therefore, is what is meant by a good, or successful, deductive argument in the fullest sense of the term. In connection with this definition of soundness, a single proviso is required: For an argument to be unsound, the false premise or premises must actually be needed to support the conclusion. An argument having a conclusion that is validly supported by true premises but having a superfluous false premise would still be sound. By similar reasoning, no addition of a false premise to an originally sound argument can make the argument unsound. Such a premise would be superfluous and should not be considered part of the argument. Analogous remarks, incidentally, extend to induction. Since (at least from the standpoint of logic) every premise is either true or false, and every deductive argument is either valid or invalid, it follows that every deductive argument is either sound or unsound. However, given that many, if not most, premises have truth values that are unknown or impossible to determine, it is not always possible to determine the soundness of a deductive argument. But that does not mean that soundness is unimportant in logic. It is crucially important that soundness be recognized as a criterion of evaluation that is distinct from validity and that the evaluator be ever vigilant never to confuse soundness with validity. Inductive Arguments Section 1.3 defined an inductive argument as one incorporating the claim that it is improbable that the conclusion be false given that the premises are true. If this claim is true, the argument is said to be strong. Thus, a strong inductive argument is an inductive argument in which it is improbable that the conclusion be false given that the premises are true. In such arguments, the conclusion does in fact follow probably from the premises. Conversely, a weak inductive argument is an argument in which the conclusion does not follow probably from the premises, even though it is claimed to. All inductive arguments depend on what philosophers call the uniformity of nature. According to this principle, the future tends to replicate the past, and regularities that prevail in one spatial region tend to prevail in other regions. For example, in the past, sugar has always tasted sweet. According to the uniformity of nature, sugar will continue to taste sweet in the future. Also, just as sugar tastes sweet in Los Angeles, so does it in New York, London, and everywhere else. The uniformity of nature is the ultimate basis for our judgments about what we naturally expect to occur. Good inductive arguments are those that accord with the uniformity of nature. They have conclusions that we naturally expect to turn out true. If the conclusion of such an argument should turn out to be false, in violation of our expectations, this occurrence would cause us to react with surprise. The procedure for testing the strength of inductive arguments runs parallel to the procedure for deduction. First we assume the premises are true, and then we determine whether, based on that assumption, the conclusion is probably true. This determination is accomplished by linking up the premises with regularities that exist in our experiential background. For example, if the argument is a causal inference, we link the information in the premises with known causal patterns. If the argument is an argument from signs, we connect the information in the premises with what we know about signs: some kinds of signs are trustworthy, others are not. If the argument is a generalization, we connect the information in the premises with what we know about a sample being representative of a population. All of these regularities are instances of the uniformity of nature. Here is an example of a prediction: All dinosaur bones discovered to this day have been at least 50 million years old. Therefore, probably the next dinosaur bone to be found will be at least 50 million years old. In this argument the premise is actually true. Given that all dinosaur bones discovered to date have been over 50 million years old (and that thousands of such bones have been discovered), the uniformity of nature dictates that the next one to be discovered will also be over 50 million years old. This is what we would naturally expect, and anything to the contrary would be highly surprising. Thus, the conclusion is probably true, and so the argument is strong. Here is another example: All meteorites found to this day have contained salt. Therefore, probably the next meteorite to be found will contain salt. The premise of this argument is clearly false; but if we assume it to be true, then we would naturally expect that the next meteorite to be found would contain salt. Thus, the argument is strong. The next example is an argument from analogy: Dom Pérignon champagne, which is made in France, sells for over $100 per bottle. Marquis de la Tour is also a French champagne. Therefore probably it, too, sells for over $100 per bottle. In this argument the premises are actually true, but our background experience tells us that the mere fact that two wines come from the same country does not imply that they sell for the same price. Thus, the argument is weak. The conclusion, incidentally, happens to be false. Another example: During the past fifty years, inflation has consistently reduced the value of the American dollar. Therefore, industrial productivity will probably increase in the years ahead. In this argument, the premise is actually true and the conclusion is probably true in the actual world, but the probability of the conclusion is in no way based on the assumption that the premise is true. Because there is no direct connection between inflation and increased industrial productivity, the premise is irrelevant to the conclusion and it provides no probabilistic support for it. The conclusion is probably true independently of the premise. As a result, the argument is weak. This last example illustrates an important distinction between strong inductive arguments and valid deductive arguments. As we will see in later chapters, if the conclusion of a deductive argument is necessarily true independently of the premises, the argument is still considered valid. But if the conclusion of an inductive argument is probably true independently of the premises, the argument is weak. These four examples show that in general the strength or weakness of an inductive argument results not from the actual truth or falsity of the premises and conclusion, but from the probabilistic support the premises give to the conclusion. The dinosaur-bone argument has a true premise and a probably true conclusion, and the meteorite argument has a false premise and a probably false conclusion; yet both are strong because the premise of each provides probabilistic support for the conclusion. The industrial productivity argument has a true premise and a probably true conclusion, but the argument is weak because the premise provides no probabilistic support for the conclusion. As in the evaluation of deductive arguments, the only arrangement of truth and falsity that establishes anything is true premises and probably false conclusion (as in the Dom Pérignon argument). Any inductive argument having true premises and a probably false conclusion is weak. Before proceeding further, however, we must qualify and explain this last statement. When we speak of the premises being true, we mean “true” in a complete sense. The premises must not exclude or overlook some crucial piece of evidence that undermines the stated premises and requires a different conclusion. This proviso is otherwise called the total evidence requirement. If the total evidence requirement is not met, an argument might have literally true premises and a probably false conclusion and still be strong. Also, when we speak of the conclusion being probably false, we mean probably false in the actual world in light of all the known evidence. Table 1.2 presents several predictions (inductive arguments) that illustrate the various combinations of truth and falsity in the premises and conclusion. Note that the only arrangement of truth and falsity that is missing for strong arguments is true premises and probably false conclusion. Table 1.2 Inductive Arguments Strong Weak True premise Every previous U.S. president was older than 40. A few U.S. presidents were lawyers. Probably true conclusion Therefore, probably the next U.S. president will be older than 40. [cogent] Therefore, probably the next U.S. president will be older than 40. [uncogent] True premise None exist A few U.S. presidents were unmarried. Probably false conclusion Therefore, probably the next U.S. president will be unmarried. [uncogent] False premise Every previous U.S. president was a TV debater. A few U.S. presidents were dentists. Probably true conclusion Therefore, probably the next U.S. president will be a TV debater. [uncogent] Therefore, probably the next U.S. president will be a TV debater. [uncogent] False premise Every previous U.S. president died in office. A few U.S. presidents were dentists. Probably false conclusion Therefore, probably the next U.S. president will die in office. [uncogent] Therefore, probably the next U.S. president will be a dentist. [uncogent] The relationship between the strength of an inductive argument and the truth or falsity of its premises and conclusion, as illustrated in Table 1.2, is summarized as follows: Premises Conclusion Strength T probably T ? T probably F Weak F probably T ? F probably F ? Like the summary table for deduction, this brief table reinforces the point that merely knowing the truth values of the premises and conclusion tells us nothing about the strength of an argument except in the one case of true premises and probably false conclusion. Any inductive argument having true premises (in the sense just explained) and a probably false conclusion is weak. Unlike the validity and invalidity of deductive arguments, the strength and weakness of inductive arguments allow for degrees. To be considered strong, an inductive argument must have a conclusion that is more probable than improbable. In other words, given that the premises are true, the likelihood that the conclusion is true must be more than 50 percent, and as the probability increases, the argument becomes stronger. For this purpose, consider the following pair of arguments: This barrel contains 100 apples. Three apples selected at random were found to be ripe. Therefore, probably all 100 apples are ripe. This barrel contains 100 apples. Eighty apples selected at random were found to be ripe. Therefore, probably all 100 apples are ripe. The first argument is weak and the second is strong. However, the first is not absolutely weak nor the second absolutely strong. Both arguments would be strengthened or weakened by the random selection of a larger or smaller sample. For example, if the size of the sample in the second argument were reduced to seventy apples, the argument would be weakened. The incorporation of additional premises into an inductive argument will also generally tend to strengthen or weaken it. For example, if the premise “One unripe apple that had been found earlier was removed” were added to either argument, the argument would be weakened. A cogent argument is an inductive argument that is strong and has all true premises. Also, the premises must be true in the sense of meeting the total evidence requirement. If any one of these conditions is missing, the argument is uncogent. Thus, an uncogent argument is an inductive argument that is weak, has one or more false premises, fails to meet the total evidence requirement, or any combination of these. A cogent argument is the inductive analogue of a sound deductive argument and is what is meant by a good, or successful, inductive argument without qualification. Because the conclusion of a cogent argument is genuinely supported by true premises, it follows that the conclusion of every cogent argument is probably true in the actual world in light of all the known evidence. As an illustration of the need for the total evidence requirement, consider the following argument: Swimming in the Caribbean is usually lots of fun. Today the water is warm, the surf is gentle, and on this beach there are no dangerous currents. Therefore, it would be fun to go swimming here now. If the premises reflect all the important factors, then the argument is cogent. But if they ignore the fact that several large dorsal fins are cutting through the water (suggesting sharks), then obviously the argument is not cogent. Thus, for cogency the premises must not only be true but also not overlook some important fact that requires a different conclusion. Finally, just as it is not always possible to determine the soundness of a deductive argument, it is not always possible to determine the cogency of an inductive argument. And this follows for two reasons. Many inductive arguments, especially those about complex real-life subjects, are not susceptible to being evaluated as clearly strong or clearly weak. And many premises have truth values that are unknown or impossible to determine. Yet, it remains important that cogency be recognized as a criterion for evaluating inductive arguments and that it not be confused with strength and weakness. 3.1Fallacies in General How Logical Are You? • Suppose a friend is doing badly in a class, and she asks for advice on how to speak to the professor. Her plan is to plead with the professor to raise her grade because she must work full time to afford tuition, and she spends every free moment caring for her sick mother. Would you encourage your friend to make this argument, or would you suggest a different kind of argument? Answer Your friend is trying to evoke pity from the professor in support of raising her grade. The circumstances she cites are logically irrelevant to whether her grade ought to be raised. An argument that gives relevant reasons in support of her conclusion would be better—such as offering to do extra credit work. In this section of the chapter you will learn about two basic classifications of bad reasoning. A fallacy is a defect in an argument that arises from either a mistake in reasoning or the creation of an illusion that makes a bad argument appear good. The fallacies that appear in this chapter involve errors that occur so often that they have been given specific names. The term non sequitur (“it does not follow”) is another name for fallacy. Both deductive and inductive arguments may contain fallacies; if they do, they are either unsound or uncogent, depending on the kind of argument. Conversely, if an argument is unsound or uncogent, it has one or more false premises or it contains a fallacy (or both). Fallacies are usually divided into two groups: formal and informal. A formal fallacy is one that may be identified by merely examining the form or structure of an argument. Fallacies of this kind are found only in deductive arguments that have identifiable forms. Chapter 1 presented some of these forms: categorical syllogisms, disjunctive syllogisms, and hypothetical syllogisms. The following categorical syllogism contains a formal fallacy: All bullfights are grotesque rituals. All executions are grotesque rituals. Therefore, all bullfights are executions. This argument has the following form: All A are B. All C are B. All A are C. By merely examining this form, one can see that it is invalid. The fact that A, B, and C stand respectively for “bullfights,” “grotesque rituals,” and “executions” is irrelevant in detecting the fallacy. The problem may be traced to the second premise. If the letters C and B are interchanged, the form becomes valid, and the original argument, with the same change introduced, also becomes valid (but unsound). Here is an example of a formal fallacy that occurs in a hypothetical syllogism: If apes are intelligent, then apes can solve puzzles. Apes can solve puzzles. Therefore, apes are intelligent. This argument has the following form: If A then B. B. A. In this case, if A and B are interchanged in the first premise, the form becomes valid, and the original argument, with the same change, also becomes valid. This fallacy and the one that precedes it will be discussed in later chapters. In distinguishing formal from informal fallacies, remember that formal fallacies occur only in deductive arguments. Thus, if a given argument is inductive, it cannot contain a formal fallacy. Also, keep an eye out for standard deductive argument forms such as categorical syllogisms and hypothetical syllogisms. If such an argument is invalid because of an improper arrangement of terms or statements, it commits a formal fallacy. Section 1.5 investigated some of these forms and gave instruction on distinguishing the form from the content of an argument. All of the exercises at the end of that section commit formal fallacies. Informal fallacies are those that can be detected only by examining the content of an argument. Consider the following example: The Brooklyn Bridge is made of atoms. Atoms are invisible. Therefore, the Brooklyn Bridge is invisible. To detect this fallacy one must know something about bridges—namely, that they are large visible objects, and even though their atomic components are invisible, this does not mean that the bridges themselves are invisible. Or consider this example: A chess player is a person. Therefore, a bad chess player is a bad person. To detect this fallacy one must know that the meaning of the word “bad” depends on what it modifies, and that being a bad chess player is quite different from being a bad person. The various informal fallacies accomplish their purpose in so many different ways that no single umbrella theory covers them all. Some fallacies work by getting the reader or listener to feel various emotions, such as fear, pity, or camaraderie, and then attaching a certain conclusion to those emotions. Others attempt to discredit an opposing argument by associating it with certain pejorative features of its author. And then there are those that appeal to various dispositions on the part of the reader or listener, such as superstition or mental laziness, to get him or her to accept a conclusion. By studying the typical ways in which arguers apply these techniques, one is less likely to be fooled by the fallacious arguments posed by others or to stumble blindly into fallacies when constructing arguments for one’s own use. Since the time of Aristotle, logicians have attempted to classify the various informal fallacies. Aristotle himself identified thirteen and separated them into two groups. The work of subsequent logicians has produced dozens more, rendering the task of classifying them even more difficult. The presentation that follows divides twenty-two informal fallacies into five groups: fallacies of relevance, fallacies of weak induction, fallacies of presumption, fallacies of ambiguity, and fallacies of illicit transference. The final section of the chapter considers the related topics of detecting and avoiding fallacies in the context of ordinary language. 1. Appeal to Force (Argumentum ad Baculum: Appeal to the “Stick”) The fallacy of appeal to force occurs whenever an arguer presents a conclusion to another person and tells that person either implicitly or explicitly that some harm will come to him or her if he or she does not accept the conclusion. The fallacy always involves a threat by the arguer to the physical or psychological well-being of the listener or reader, who may be either an individual or a group of people. Obviously, such a threat is logically irrelevant to the subject matter of the conclusion, so any argument based on such a procedure is fallacious. The ad baculum fallacy often occurs when children argue with one another: Child to playmate: Sesame Street is the best show on TV; and if you don’t believe it, I’m going to call my big brother over here and he’s going to beat you up. But it occurs among adults as well: Lobbyist to senator: Senator Casey, of course you support our bill to reduce inheritance taxes. After all, you wouldn’t want the press to find out about all the contributions you receive from the Ku Klux Klan. The first example involves a physical threat, the second a psychological one. While neither threat provides any genuine evidence that the conclusion is true, both provide evidence that someone might be injured. If the two types of evidence are confused with each other, both arguer and listener may be deluded into thinking that the conclusion is supported by evidence, when in fact it is not. The appeal to force fallacy usually accomplishes its purpose by psychologically impeding the reader or listener from acknowledging a missing premise that, if acknowledged, would be seen to be false or at least questionable. The two examples just given can be interpreted as concealing the following premises, both of which are most likely false: If my brother forces you to admit that Sesame Street is the best show on TV, then Sesame Street is in fact the best show. If I succeed in threatening you, then you support the bill to reduce inheritance taxes. The conclusion of the first argument is that Sesame Street is the best show on TV. But just because someone is forced into saying that it is does not mean that such is the case. Similarly, the conclusion of the second argument is that the senator supports the bill to reduce inheritance taxes. But just because the lobbyist succeeds in threatening the senator does not mean that the senator supports the bill. Many of the other informal fallacies can be interpreted as accomplishing their purpose in this way. 2. Appeal to Pity (Argumentum ad Misericordiam) The appeal to pity fallacy occurs when an arguer attempts to support a conclusion by merely evoking pity from the reader or listener. This pity may be directed toward the arguer or toward some third party. Example: Taxpayer to judge: Your Honor, I admit that I declared thirteen children as dependents on my tax return, even though I have only two. But if you find me guilty of tax evasion, my reputation will be ruined. I’ll probably lose my job, my poor wife will not be able to have the operation that she desperately needs, and my kids will starve. Surely I am not guilty. The conclusion of this argument is “Surely I am not guilty.” Obviously, the conclusion is not logically relevant to the arguer’s set of pathetic circumstances, although it is psychologically relevant. If the arguer succeeds in evoking pity from the listener or reader, the latter is likely to exercise his or her desire to help the arguer by accepting the argument. In this way the reader or listener may be fooled into accepting a conclusion that is not supported by any evidence. The appeal to pity is quite common and is often used by students on their instructors at exam time and by lawyers on behalf of their clients before judges and juries. Of course, some arguments that attempt to evoke sympathetic feelings from the reader or listener are not fallacious. We might call them arguments from compassion. Such arguments differ from the fallacious appeal to pity in that, in addition to evoking compassion on behalf of some person, they supply information about why that person is genuinely deserving of help or special consideration. Whenever possible these nonfallacious arguments should show that the person in question is a victim of circumstances and not responsible for the dire straits he finds himself in, that the recommended help or special consideration is not illegal or inappropriate, and that it will genuinely help the person in question. In contrast to such arguments, the appeal to pity proceeds by ignoring all of these considerations and attempts to support a conclusion by merely evoking pity from the reader or listener. 3. Appeal to the People (Argumentum ad Populum) Nearly everyone wants to be loved, esteemed, admired, valued, recognized, and accepted by others. The appeal to the people uses these desires to get the reader or listener to accept a conclusion. Two approaches are involved: one of them direct, the other indirect. The direct approach occurs when an arguer, addressing a large group of people, excites the emotions and enthusiasm of the crowd to win acceptance for his or her conclusion. The objective is to arouse a kind of mob mentality. This is the strategy used by nearly every propagandist and demagogue. Adolf Hitler was a master of the technique, but speech makers at Democratic and Republican national conventions also use it with some measure of success. Waving flags and blaring music add to the overall effect. Because the individuals in the audience want to share in the camaraderie, the euphoria, and the excitement, they find themselves accepting a variety of conclusions with ever-increasing fervor. An appeal to negative emotions can also generate a mob mentality. The appeal to fear, also known as fear mongering, is a variety of the direct form of the appeal to the people that occurs when an arguer trumps up a fear of something in the mind of the crowd and then uses that fear as a premise for some conclusion. Of course many fears that we experience in daily life are supported by solid evidence, such as the fear of getting mugged in a dark alley when several muggings have occurred there recently. In the appeal to fear fallacy, the fear is not supported by any solid evidence, and it usually rests on nothing more than irrational suspicion created by repeating a message or rumor over and over again. As the message gradually sinks in it causes the crowd to feel uneasy, and this alone may be enough to get a large number to accept the arguer’s conclusion. Fear mongering has played at least a minor role in nearly every presidential election. A famous example was the so-called Daisy Commercial used in 1964 by the Lyndon Johnson campaign to defeat Barry Goldwater. The commercial raised the specter of Goldwater’s possible use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam if he were to become president. What if Goldwater were elected? Could this lead to an all-out nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union? No one could be sure of the answer. Even though the commercial was pulled after its first airing, countless news shows picked it up and repeated it over and over again. The effect was to plant the fear of nuclear annihilation in the minds of millions of voters, and in the end it swayed many of them to side with President Johnson. Practically any social or political change is fertile ground for appeals to fear. When Darwin’s theory of evolution began to be taught in the schools, William Jennings Bryan argued that it would increase the number of wars, undermine morality, convert love into hate, and destroy civilization. His speeches were a driving force in the movement to ban the teaching of evolution. When the nation was debating whether women should be allowed to vote, Elihu Root argued that suffrage would make women “hard, harsh, unlovable, repulsive.” When the Soviet Union developed the atomic bomb and became a threat to world peace, Senator Joseph McCarthy argued that Soviet spies or sympathizers had infiltrated many branches of the government including the State Department and the U.S. Army. The resulting atmosphere of fear wrecked the lives of many innocent victims. As these examples illustrate, the direct approach of appeal to the people is often accomplished through oral communication. However, writing can also produce the same effect. By using such emotionally charged phrases as “champion of the free-enterprise system,” “defender of the working man,” “bleeding-heart liberal,” and “profligate spender,” polemicists can awaken the same kind of mob mentality in their writings as they would if they were speaking. In the indirect approach of appeal to the people, the arguer aims his or her appeal not at the crowd as a whole but at one or more individuals separately, focusing on some aspect of those individuals’ relationship to the crowd. The indirect approach includes such specific forms as the bandwagon argument, the appeal to vanity, the appeal to snobbery, and the appeal to tradition. The bandwagon argument has this general structure: Everybody believes such-and-such or does such-and-such; therefore, you should believe or do such-and-such, too. Examples: Everyone nowadays is on a low-carb diet. Therefore, you should go on a low-carb diet, too. Practically everybody believes in life after death. Therefore, you should believe in life after death, too. The idea is that if you want to fit in with the crowd and not stick out like a sore thumb, then you, too, will go on the diet and believe in life after death. But of course the mere fact that a large group of people happen to be doing something or believe in something is not, by itself, a logical reason why you ought to do it, too. The appeal to vanity is another form of the indirect approach, and it often involves linking the love, admiration, or approval of the crowd with some famous figure who is loved, admired, or approved of. This version of the fallacy is often used by advertisers, parents, and people in general. Of course you want to look as fresh and beautiful as Ellen DeGeneres. That means you will want to buy and use Cover Girl cosmetics. Daniel Craig wears an Omega wristwatch. Thus, if you want to be like him, you will buy and wear an Omega watch, too. Mother to child: You want to grow up and be just like Wonder Woman, don’t you? Then eat your liver and carrots. The idea is that if you succeed in becoming like DeGeneres, Craig, or Wonder Woman, then you will win the love and approval of the crowd; but to become like them you must buy the advertised product or, in the case of the little girl, eat the liver and carrots. Incidentally, these examples show how the appeal to vanity can overlap the false cause fallacy (presented in Section 3.3), because they might be interpreted to mean that using Cover Girl cosmetics will cause a person to look like Ellen DeGeneres, and so on. Of course, any such causal connection is unlikely. In the appeal to snobbery the crowd that the arguer appeals to is a smaller group that is supposed to be superior in some way—more wealthy, more powerful, more culturally refined, more intelligent, and so on. As the argument goes, if the listener wants to be part of this group, then he or she will do a certain thing, think in a certain way, or buy a certain product. Example: The Lexus 400 series is not for everyone. Only those with considerable means and accomplishment will acquire one. To show the world that you are among the select few, you will want to purchase and drive one of these distinguished automobiles. Even if a group of snobs might happen to think or feel something, this is not a logical reason for why you should act in conformity. The appeal to tradition is yet another variety of the indirect appeal to the people. It occurs when an arguer cites the fact that something has become a tradition as grounds for some conclusion. The claim that something is a tradition is basically synonymous with the claim that a lot of people have done it that way for a long time. Examples: Traditionally, professional sporting events have been preceded by the national anthem. Therefore, professional sporting events should continue to be preceded by the national anthem. Serving turkey on Thanksgiving Day is a long-standing tradition. Therefore, we should serve turkey next Thanksgiving Day. The mere fact that something has been done in a certain way for a long time does not by itself justify its being repeated in the future. Yet, there are some appeals to tradition that have conclusions that are true for other reasons, and this may trick a reader or listener into thinking that the argument is a good one. Example: Traditionally, guests have worn elegant clothing to Mrs. Channing’s annual cocktail party. Therefore, it would not be a good idea for you to go naked to her party this year. This argument is just as fallacious as the previous two. The conclusion is clearly true, but the reason why it is true is not because of any tradition but because the purpose of a cocktail party is to foster a feeling of conviviality among the guests. One of the guests showing up naked would threaten to destroy this purpose to the detriment of the host and all the other guests. Incidentally, this final point about appeals to tradition with true conclusions applies to the other forms of ad populum as well. If such arguments have true conclusions, those conclusions are true for reasons other than the fact that the crowd believes something or feels something. Both the direct and indirect approaches of the ad populum fallacy have the same basic structure: You want to be accepted/included in the group/loved/esteemed…. Therefore, you should accept XYZ as true. In the direct approach the arousal of a mob mentality produces an immediate feeling of belonging, even if it relates to something feared. Each person feels united with the crowd, and this feeling evokes a sense of strength and security. When the crowd roars its approval of the conclusions that are then offered, anyone who does not accept them automatically cuts himself or herself off from the crowd and risks the loss of his or her security, strength, and acceptance. The same thing happens in the indirect approach, but the context and technique are somewhat subtler. 4. Argument against the Person (Argumentum ad Hominem) This fallacy always involves two arguers. One of them advances (either directly or implicitly) a certain argument, and the other then responds by directing his or her attention not to the first person’s argument but to the first person himself. When this occurs, the second person is said to commit an argument against the person. The argument against the person occurs in three forms: the ad hominem abusive, the ad hominem circumstantial, and the tu quoque. In the ad hominem abusive, the second person responds to the first person’s argument by verbally abusing the first person. Example: Television entertainer Bill Maher argues that religion is just a lot of foolish nonsense. But Maher is an arrogant, shameless, self-righteous pig. Obviously his arguments are not worth listening to. The author of this argument ignores the substance of Maher’s argument and instead attacks Maher himself. However, because Maher’s personal attributes are irrelevant to whether the premises of his religion argument support the conclusion, the argument attacking him is fallacious. Not all cases of the ad hominem abusive are so blunt, but they are just as fallacious. Example: Dr. Phil argues that mutual self-esteem is essential to a good marriage. But Dr. Phil is not terribly well educated, and he never attended an Ivy League college. Thus, his arguments are worthless. A very common form of the ad hominem abusive occurs when the responding arguer’s retort is to suggest that the opposing arguer consider going somewhere else—such as out of the country (“America—love it or leave it”), switching to a different religion or political party, or doing something ridiculous (such as jumping in a lake or flying a kite). Example: Billionaire investor Warren Buffet argues that wealthy people should be required to pay more taxes. I would remind Mr. Buffett that he is free to send a check to the Department of the Treasury any time he likes. This argument commits an ad hominem because instead of replying to Mr. Buffet’s argument, the second arguer directs his attention to Mr. Buffet himself and suggests that if he is so concerned about the inflow of tax dollars, he can increase the amount of his own taxes. The aim is to show that Mr. Buffet is insincere. The ad hominem circumstantial begins the same way as the ad hominem abusive, but instead of heaping verbal abuse on his or her opponent, the respondent attempts to discredit the opponent’s argument by alluding to certain circumstances that affect the opponent. By doing so the respondent hopes to show that the opponent is predisposed to argue the way he or she does and should therefore not be taken seriously. Here is an example: The Dalai Lama argues that China has no business in Tibet and that the West should do something about it. But the Dalai Lama just wants the Chinese to leave so he can return as leader. Naturally he argues this way. Therefore, we should reject his arguments. The author of this argument ignores the substance of the Dalai Lama’s argument and attempts to discredit it by calling attention to certain circumstances that affect the Dalai Lama—namely, that he wants to return to Tibet as its leader. But the fact that the Dalai Lama happens to be affected by these circumstances is irrelevant to whether his premises support a conclusion. The ad hominem circumstantial is easy to recognize because it always takes this form: “Of course Mr. X argues this way; just look at the circumstances that affect him.” The tu quoque (“you too”) fallacy begins the same way as the other two varieties of the ad hominem argument, except that the second arguer attempts to make the first appear to be hypocritical or arguing in bad faith. The second arguer usually accomplishes this by citing features in the life or behavior of the first arguer that conflict with the latter’s conclusion. The fallacy often takes the form, “How dare you argue that I should stop doing X; why, you do (or have done) X yourself.” Example: Kim Kardashian argues that women should not have children out of wedlock. But who is she to talk? She gave birth to her daughter North without being married. Clearly Kardashian’s argument is not worth listening to. Again, the fact that Kim Kardashian gave birth to a daughter out of wedlock is irrelevant to whether her premises support her conclusion. Thus, the argument is fallacious. Keep in mind that the purpose of an ad hominem argument is to discredit another person’s argument by placing its author in a bad light. Thus, for the fallacy to be committed, there must always be two arguers (at least implicitly). If it should turn out that the person being attacked is not an arguer, then the personal comments made by the attacker may well be relevant to the conclusion that is drawn. In general, personal observations are relevant to conclusions about what kind of person someone is (good, bad, stingy, trustworthy, and so forth) and whether a person has done something. Example: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has murdered political opponents and their entire families, and he has committed other crimes including extermination, enslavement, torture, and rape. Also, he has threatened U. S. cities with nuclear annihilation. Kim Jong-un is therefore a thoroughly despicable and disgusting human being. The conclusion is not that Kim Jong’s argument is bad but that Kim Jong himself is bad. Because the premises give relevant support to this conclusion, the argument commits no fallacy. Another example: Shakespeare cannot possibly have written the thirty-six plays attributed to him, because the real Shakespeare was a two-bit country businessman who barely finished the fourth grade in school and who never left the confines of his native England. The conclusion is not that some argument of Shakespeare’s is bad but that Shakespeare did not write certain plays. Again, since the premises are relevant to this conclusion, the argument commits no ad hominem fallacy. Determining what kind of person someone is includes determining whether that person is trustworthy. Thus, personal comments are often relevant in evaluating whether a person’s proclamations or statements, unsupported by evidence, warrant our belief. Examples of such statements include promises to do something, testimony given by a witness, and testimonials in support of a product or service. Here is an example of an argument that discredits a witness: Mickey has testified that he saw Freddy set fire to the building. But Mickey was recently convicted on ten counts of perjury, and he hates Freddy with a passion and would love to see him sent to jail. Therefore, you should not believe Mickey’s testimony. This argument commits no fallacy. The conclusion is not that you should reject Mickey’s argument but rather that you should reject his testimony. Testimony is not argument, and the fact that the witness is a known liar and has a motive to lie now is relevant to whether we should believe him. Furthermore, note that the conclusion is not that Mickey’s statement is literally false but rather that we should not believe the statement. It is quite possible that Mickey really did see Freddy set fire to the building and that Mickey’s statement to that effect is true. But if our only reason for believing this statement is the mere fact that Mickey has made it, then given the circumstances, we are not justified in that belief. Personal factors are never relevant to truth and falsity as such, but they are relevant to believability. Yet there is often a close connection between truth and believability, and this provides one of the reasons why ad hominem arguments are often effective. In evaluating any argument there are always two issues to be considered: the quality of the reasoning and the truth of the premises. As noted, both are irrelevant to the personal characteristics of the arguer. But whether we accept the premises as true may depend on the credibility of the arguer. Knowing that the arguer is biased or has a motive to lie may provide good grounds for distrusting the premises. Another reason why ad hominem arguments are effective is that they engage the emotions of readers and listeners and thereby motivate them to transfer their negative feelings about the arguer onto the argument. 5. Accident The fallacy of accident is committed when a general rule is applied to a specific case it was not intended to cover. Typically, the general rule is cited (either directly or implicitly) in the premises and then wrongly applied to the specific case mentioned in the conclusion. Two examples: Freedom of speech is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Therefore, John Q. Radical should not be arrested for his speech that incited the riot last week. Zoe promised to meet Ethan for coffee, but while she was walking to the local Starbucks, a pedestrian collapsed on the sidewalk right in front of her and she stopped to administer CPR. Since people are obligated to keep their promises, it was wrong for Zoe to miss her appointment with Ethan. In the first example, the general rule is that freedom of speech is normally guaranteed, and the specific case is the speech made by John Q. Radical. Because the speech incited a riot, the rule does not apply. In the second example, the general rule is that people are obligated to keep their promises, and the specific case is the promise that Zoe made to Ethan. The rule does not apply because saving a human life is more important than keeping a coffee appointment. The fallacy of accident gets its name from the fact that one or more accidental features of the specific case make it an exception to the rule. In the first example the accidental feature is that the speech incited a riot; in the second example the accidental feature is that while Zoe was en route to meeting Ethan, someone collapsed on the sidewalk right in front of her. 6. Straw Man The straw man fallacy is committed when an arguer distorts an opponent’s argument for the purpose of more easily attacking it, demolishes the distorted argument, and then concludes that the opponent’s real argument has been demolished. By so doing, the arguer is said to have set up a straw man and knocked it down, only to conclude that the real “man” (opposing argument) has been knocked down as well. Example: Mr. Goldberg has argued against prayer in the public schools. Obviously Mr. Goldberg advocates atheism. But atheism is what they used to have in Russia. Atheism leads to the suppression of all religions and the replacement of God by an omnipotent state. Is that what we want for this country? I hardly think so. Clearly Mr. Goldberg’s argument is nonsense. Straw man, along with argument against the person, are called refutational fallacies because they involve one arguer refuting another. These are the only fallacies presented in this chapter that always involve two arguers. In the Goldberg argument, Mr. Goldberg, who is the first arguer, has presented an argument against prayer in the public schools. The second arguer then attacks Goldberg’s argument by equating it with an argument for atheism. He then attacks atheism and concludes that Goldberg’s argument is nonsense. Since Goldberg’s argument had nothing to do with atheism, the second argument commits the straw man fallacy. As this example illustrates, the kind of distortion the second arguer resorts to is often an attempt to exaggerate the first person’s argument or make it look more extreme than it really is. Here are two more examples: The garment workers have signed a petition arguing for better ventilation on the work premises. Unfortunately, air-conditioning is expensive. Air ducts would have to be run throughout the factory, and a massive heat exchange unit installed on the roof. Also, the cost of operating such a system during the summer would be astronomical. In view of these considerations the petition must be rejected. The student status committee has presented us with an argument favoring alcohol privileges on campus. What do the students want? Is it their intention to stay boozed up from the day they enter as freshmen until the day they graduate? Do they expect us to open a bar for them? Or maybe a chain of bars all over campus? Such a proposal is ridiculous! In the first argument, the petition is merely for better ventilation in the factory—maybe a fan in the window during the summer. The arguer exaggerates this request to mean an elaborate air-conditioning system installed throughout the building. He then points out that this is too expensive and concludes by rejecting the petition. A similar strategy is used in the second argument. The arguer distorts the request for alcohol privileges to mean a chain of bars all over campus. Such an idea is so patently outlandish that no further argument is necessary. 7. Missing the Point (Ignoratio Elenchi) All the fallacies we have discussed thus far have been instances of cases where the premises of an argument are irrelevant to the conclusion. Missing the point illustrates a special form of irrelevance. This fallacy occurs when the premises of an argument support one particular conclusion, but then a different conclusion, often vaguely related to the correct conclusion, is drawn. Whenever one suspects that such a fallacy is being committed, he or she should be able to identify the correct conclusion, the conclusion that the premises logically imply. This conclusion must be significantly different from the conclusion that is actually drawn. Examples: Crimes of theft and robbery have been increasing at an alarming rate lately. The conclusion is obvious: We must reinstate the death penalty immediately. Abuse of the welfare system is rampant nowadays. Our only alternative is to abolish the system altogether. At least two correct conclusions are implied by the premise of the first argument: either “We should provide increased police protection in vulnerable neighborhoods” or “We should initiate programs to eliminate the causes of the crimes.” Reinstating the death penalty is not a logical conclusion at all. Among other things, theft and robbery are not capital crimes. In the second argument the premises logically suggest some systematic effort to eliminate the cheaters rather than eliminating the system altogether. Ignoratio elenchi means “ignorance of the proof.” The arguer is ignorant of the logical implications of his or her own premises and, as a result, draws a conclusion that misses the point entirely. The fallacy has a distinct structure all its own, but in some ways it serves as a catchall for arguments that are not clear instances of one or more of the other fallacies. An argument should not be identified as a case of missing the point, however, if one of the other fallacies fits. 8. Red Herring This fallacy is closely associated with missing the point (ignoratio elenchi). The red herring fallacy is committed when the arguer diverts the attention of the reader or listener by changing the subject to a different but sometimes subtly related one. He or she then finishes by either drawing a conclusion about this different issue or by merely presuming that some conclusion has been established. By so doing, the arguer purports to have won the argument. The fallacy gets its name from a procedure used to train hunting dogs to follow a scent. A red herring (or bag of them) is dragged across the trail with the aim of leading the dogs astray. Since red herrings have an especially potent scent (caused in part by the smoking process used to preserve them), only the best dogs will follow the original scent. To use the red herring fallacy effectively, the arguer must change the original subject of the argument without the reader or listener noticing it. One way of doing this is to change the subject to one that is subtly related to the original subject. Here are two examples of this technique: Environmentalists are continually harping about the dangers of nuclear power. Unfortunately, electricity is dangerous no matter where it comes from. Every year hundreds of people are electrocuted by accident. Since most of these accidents are caused by carelessness, they could be avoided if people would just exercise greater caution. There is a good deal of talk these days about the need to eliminate pesticides from our fruits and vegetables. But many of these foods are essential to our health. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, broccoli is rich in iron, and oranges and grapefruit have lots of vitamin C. Both arguments commit the red herring fallacy. In the first, the original issue is whether nuclear power is dangerous. The arguer changes this subject to the danger of electrocution and proceeds to draw a conclusion about that. The new subject is clearly different from the possibility of nuclear explosion or meltdown, but the fact that both are related to electricity facilitates the arguer’s goal of leading someone off the track. In the second argument, the original issue is pesticides, and the arguer changes it to the value of fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. Again, the fact that the second topic is related to the first assists the arguer in committing the fallacy. In neither case does the arguer draw a conclusion about the original topic, but by merely diverting the attention of the reader or listener, the arguer creates the presumption of having won the argument. A second way of using the red herring effectively is to change the subject to some flashy, eye-catching topic that is virtually guaranteed to distract the listener’s attention. Topics of this sort include sex, crime, scandal, immorality, death, and any other topic that might serve as the subject of gossip. Here is an example of this technique: Professor Conway complains of inadequate parking on our campus. But did you hear that Conway’s eldest son, Jasper, was convicted a year ago of embezzlement? Jasper managed to steal half a million dollars from the First National Bank before officials figured out what was going on. It’s really important that bank officials be constantly vigilant. Okay, let’s move on to the next topic. The red herring fallacy can be confused with the straw man fallacy because both have the effect of drawing the reader/listener off the track. This confusion can usually be avoided by remembering the unique ways in which they accomplish this purpose. In the straw man, the arguer begins by distorting an opponent’s argument and concludes by knocking down the distorted argument. In the red herring, the arguer ignores the opponent’s argument (if there is one) and subtly changes the subject. Thus, to distinguish the two fallacies, one should attempt to determine whether the arguer has knocked down a distorted argument or simply changed the subject. Also keep in mind that straw man always involves two arguers, at least implicitly, whereas a red herring often does not. Both the red herring and straw man fallacies are susceptible of being confused with missing the point, because all three involve a similar kind of irrelevancy. To avoid this confusion, one should note that both red herring and straw man proceed by generating a new set of premises, whereas missing the point does not. Straw man draws a conclusion from new premises that are obtained by distorting an earlier argument, and red herring, if it draws any conclusion at all, draws one from new premises obtained by changing the subject. Missing the point, however, draws a conclusion from the original premises. Also, in the red herring and straw man, the conclusion, if there is one, is relevant to the premises from which it is drawn; but in missing the point, the conclusion is irrelevant to the premises from which it is drawn. Finally, remember that missing the point serves in part as a kind of catchall fallacy, and a fallacious argument should not be identified as a case of missing the point if one of the other fallacies clearly fits. 3.2 - Examples of Mistaken ad Hominem Volume 90% Copyright © Cengage Learning. Exercise 3.2 o I. Identify the fallacies of relevance committed by the following arguments, giving a brief explanation for your answer. If no fallacy is committed, write “no fallacy.” 2. The position open in the accounting department should be given to Frank Thompson. Frank has six hungry children to feed, and his wife desperately needs an operation to save her eyesight. Answer Appeal to pity. 3. Erica Evans, who takes orders at the local Taco Bell, argues persuasively in favor of increasing the minimum wage. But this is exactly what you would expect. Erica is paid the minimum wage, and if the minimum wage is increased, then her own salary will go up. Obviously Erica’s arguments are worthless. 4. The school board argues that our schools are in desperate need of repair. But the real reason our students are falling behind is that they spend too much time on their smartphones. Becoming educated means a lot more than learning how to scroll up and down. The school board should send a letter to the parents urging them to confiscate their kids’ smartphones. 5. Whoever thrusts a knife into another person should be arrested. But surgeons do precisely this when operating. Therefore, surgeons should be arrested. Answer Accident. 6. You should read Irving Stone’s latest novel right away. It’s sold over a million copies, and practically everyone in the Manhattan cocktail circuit is talking about it. 7. Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy is not worth the paper it’s printed on. Nietzsche was an immoral reprobate who went completely insane from syphilis before he died. 8. Surely you welcome the opportunity to join our protective organization. Think of all the money you will lose from broken windows, overturned trucks, and damaged merchandise in the event of your not joining. Answer Appeal to force. 9. Senator Barrow advocates increased Social Security benefits for the poor. It is regrettable that the senator finds it necessary to advocate socialism. Socialism defeats initiative, takes away promised rewards, and leads directly to inefficiency and big government. It was tried for years in Eastern Europe, and it failed miserably. Clearly, socialism is no good. 10. Something is seriously wrong with high school education these days. After ten years of decline, SAT scores are still extremely low, and high school graduates are practically incapable of reading and writing. The obvious conclusion is that we should close the schools. 11. Giving ridiculous reasons, the editors of the Daily Register have accused our company of being one of the city’s worst water polluters. But the Daily Register is responsible for much more pollution than we are. After all, they own the Western Paper Company, and that company discharges tons of chemical residue into the city’s river every day. Answer Tu quoque (you, too). 12. If 20 percent of adult Americans are functionally illiterate, then it’s no wonder that morons get elected to public office. In fact, 20 percent of adult Americans are functionally illiterate. Therefore, it’s no wonder that morons get elected to public office. 13. Ladies and gentlemen, today the lines of battle have been drawn. When the din of clashing armor has finally died away, the Republican party will emerge victorious! We are the true party of the American people! We embody the values that all real Americans hold sacred! We cherish and protect our founding fathers’ vision that gave birth to the Constitution! We stand for decency and righteousness; for self-determination and the liberty to conduct our affairs as each of us freely chooses! In the coming election, victory will be ours, so help us God! 14. We’ve all heard the argument that too much television is the reason our students can’t read and write. Yet many of today’s TV shows are excellent. Madam Secretary offers a look at the personal and professional life of a secretary of state, The Big Bang Theory serves up lots of laughs in a highbrow setting, and The Voice presents vocalists from across the country competing with help from coaches. Today’s TV is just great! Answer Red herring. 15. Surely architect Norris is not responsible for the collapse of the Central Bank Tower. Norris has had nothing but trouble lately. His daughter eloped with a child molester, his son committed suicide, and his alcoholic wife recently left for Las Vegas with his retirement savings. 16. The First Amendment to the Constitution prevents the government from interfering with the free exercise of religion. The liturgical practice of the Religion of Internal Enlightenment involves human sacrifice. Therefore, it would be wrong for the government to interfere with this religious practice. 17. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren argues that big banks have been ripping off the American consumer for years. It’s clear, however, that Warren says this only to scratch up more campaign contributions from those very consumers. Thus, you shouldn’t take her arguments seriously. Answer Ad hominem circumstantial. 18. Professor Pearson’s arguments in favor of the theory of evolution should be discounted. Pearson is a cocaine-snorting sex pervert and, according to some reports, a member of the Communist party. 19. Rudolf Höss, commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, confessed to having exterminated 1 million people, most of whom were Jews, in the Auschwitz gas chamber. We can only conclude that Höss was either insane or an extremely evil person. 20. TV commentator Larry Kudlow argues that government should get off the back of the American businessman. Obviously, Kudlow wants to abolish government altogether. Yet without government there would be no defense, no judicial system, no Social Security, and no health and safety regulations. None of us wants to forgo these benefits. Thus, we can see that Kudlow’s argument is absurd. Answer Straw man. 21. I know that some of you oppose the appointment of David Cole as the new sales manager. On further consideration, however, I am confident you will find him well qualified for the job. If Cole is not appointed, it may become necessary to make severe personnel cutbacks in your department. 22. Animal rights activists say that animals are abused in biomedical research labs. But consider this: Pets are abused by their owners every day. Probably 25 percent of pet owners should never get near animals. Some cases of abuse are enough to make you sick. 23. Of course you want to buy a pair of Slinky fashion jeans. Slinky jeans really show off your figure, and all the Hollywood starlets down on the Strip can be seen wearing them these days. Answer Appeal to the people, indirect variety. 24. Marie Osmond says on TV that Nutrisystem is the best way to get rid of belly fat. But this is exactly what you would expect given that Nutrisystem pays her millions of dollars to make these ads. Thus, you shouldn’t take her testimonials too seriously. 25. Dr. Morrison has argued that smoking is responsible for the majority of health problems in this country and that every smoker who has even the slightest concern for his or her health should quit. Unfortunately, however, we must consign Dr. Morrison’s argument to the trash bin. Only yesterday I saw none other than Dr. Morrison himself smoking a cigar. 26. Mr. Rhodes is suffering from amnesia and has no recollection whatever of the events of the past two weeks. We can only conclude that he did not commit the crime of murdering his wife a week ago, as he has been accused of doing. Answer Missing the point. o II. Answer “true” or “false” to the following statements: 2. In the appeal to force, the arguer physically attacks the listener. 3. In the direct variety of the appeal to the people, the arguer attempts to create a kind of mob mentality. 4. If an arguer attempts to discredit courtroom testimony or a promise by pointing out that the witness or the person making the promise is a liar, then the arguer commits an argumentum ad hominem (argument against the person) fallacy. 5. The argumentum ad hominem always involves two arguers. 6. In the argumentum ad hominem circumstantial, the circumstances cited by the second arguer are intended precisely to malign the character of the first arguer. 7. In the tu quoque fallacy, the arguer threatens the reader or listener. 8. In the fallacy of accident, a general rule is applied to a specific case where it does not fit. 9. In the straw man fallacy, an arguer often distorts another person’s argument by making it look more extreme than it really is. 10. Whenever one suspects that a missing the point fallacy is being committed, one should be able to state the conclusion that is logically implied by the premises. 11. In the red herring fallacy, the arguer attempts to lead the reader or listener off the track. o III. Identify the fallacies committed in the following dialogue. You should be able to find at least one case of each fallacy presented in this section. 2. Food for Thought “Let’s hit the produce section first,” Curtis says to his fiancée Talia, as they enter Payless grocery store. “Okay,” she says. “Oh, look,” says Curtis. “The corn is on sale. Let’s get some for dinner.” “I don’t know,” says Talia. “Did you see that sign over the display? The corn is genetically modified. I know we’ve never paid much attention to that sign in the past, but now I’m thinking that maybe we should.” “Why’s that?” asks Curtis. “I read an article the other day about foods containing genetically modified organisms—they call them GMO foods—and now I know what’s behind this GMO business,” Talia replies. “And what is behind it?” Curtis asks. Talia picks up an ear and sniffs it. “For starters,” she says, “one of the reasons they modify corn is to make it resistant to herbicides like Roundup—you know, the stuff you spray on the weeds in the garden. So with GMO corn the farmer can spray the whole field with Roundup, the weeds will die, and the cornstalks will be unaffected.” “Sounds like a great way to grow corn,” Curtis says. “Yes,” replies Talia, “but that means the corn contains a residue of Roundup. That’s definitely not good. Roundup is a probable cause of cancer.” “Good grief,” says Curtis. “If what you say is right, I think there is only one conclusion: We must ban the sale of Roundup immediately.” After pausing to scratch his head, he continues, “On the other hand, look at all the people who are buying this corn. If everyone is buying it, then I think we should, too.” “You’re right that everyone is buying it,” says Talia. “Nearly 90 percent of the corn sold in this country is genetically modified. But that doesn’t mean that we should buy it. Look, there’s a small display of organic corn over there. Let’s get some of that.” “Now wait just a minute,” says Curtis. “You better not be going organic on me. That would be too much. You know I like to eat out at least once a week, and most restaurants don’t serve organic food. If you insist on organic, then you will stay at home cooking your own food, while I go out.” “Well, maybe I could eat conventional restaurant food once in a while,” says Talia. “But organic food has become really appealing these days. That actor Christian Slater promotes it in magazine ads. And some of my friends say that he is really sexy and that you look like him! Maybe you should think about switching to organic.” “I look like Christian Slater?” asks Curtis, looking flattered. “Wow! Maybe you’re right. But now that you’ve raised the issue, that reminds me of something. Didn’t you tell me a while back that you had an uncle who grew organic food? If he makes a lot of money, you might inherit it. I bet that’s what’s behind this organic thing of yours.” “Not at all,” says Talia. “But I’m glad you mentioned the farmers. Some of these people have invested every cent they have in growing organic food. If consumers don’t buy it, these poor, hardworking farmers will all go broke. We really can’t let that happen. They’ve put their heart and soul into growing really healthy food for people like you and me. We can’t let them down.” “And here’s another consideration,” continues Talia. “A basic principle of morality says that we should help others in need. The owner of this grocery store needs for people to buy his organic produce. Thus, I think we have an obligation to buy it.” “Ha, ha,” Curtis laughs. “According to that argument we also have a moral obligation to buy the GMO food. I don’t think we have a moral obligation to buy anything. But now that I think of it, you’ve always been a bit resistant to anything new. When smartphones came out, you didn’t want one, you didn’t want a flat-screen TV, and now you don’t want GMO corn. You should be more open to scientific developments.” Talia smirks. “And what about you?” she asks. “You seem to think technology can solve all our problems. By that line of reasoning, we should have robots serving our every need. Robot doctors, robot lawyers, robot cooks, robot grade-school teachers. But robots will never replace human beings. Human beings have feelings. They have hopes and fears and they love each other. Robots don’t love anything.” “I know nothing about robots,” says Curtis, “but getting back to corn, just compare this GMO corn with the organic corn in the other bin. The GMO corn looks larger and more appetizing than the organic. In fact, we do lots of things these days to make vegetables look more appetizing and grow better. For example, we add fertilizer to the soil. Nitrogen is an important ingredient in these fertilizers, and so is phosphorus and potassium.” “I didn’t realize you knew so much about fertilizer,” Talia says. “I need some fertilizer for my flower garden. Could you recommend something?” “Yes, I could. But in the meantime, shall we get some corn?” Curtis asks as he selects two ears from the GMO bin. Talia takes one ear from his hand and puts it back. She then crosses over to the organic bin, tucks an ear under her arm, and smiles at Curtis. “One for you, one for me,” she says. o IV. Create the following informal fallacies: 2. An appeal to force dealing with an automobile collision 3. An appeal to pity about hiring someone for a job 4. An appeal to fear related to immigration 5. A bandwagon argument dealing with alcoholic beverages 6. An ad hominem abusive related to politics 7. An ad hominem circumstantial about gender identity 8. A tu quoque connected with diet and exercise 9. A red herring dealing with climate change 3.3Fallacies of Weak Induction How Logical Are You? • Suppose, while visiting Las Vegas for the weekend, that you spend all of your allotted gambling money ($100) on a single slot machine. You remark to a friend that you would love to win your money back, and he urges you to withdraw another $100 from a nearby ATM. After all, he argues, you have put so much money into that one machine that you are due for a big win. Has your friend given you good advice? Answer Your friend has not given you good advice. The fact that you have lost with the first $100 is not relevant to the claim that you will win with the next $100. Your friend’s argument is an instance of what is called the gambler’s fallacy. In this section of the chapter you will learn about this fallacy and other cases of false cause. The fallacies of weak induction occur not because the premises are logically irrelevant to the conclusion, as is the case with the eight fallacies of relevance, but because the connection between premises and conclusion is not strong enough to support the conclusion. In each of the following fallacies, the premises provide at least a shred of evidence in support of the conclusion, but the evidence is not nearly good enough to cause a reasonable person to believe the conclusion. Like the fallacies of relevance, however, the fallacies of weak induction often involve emotional grounds for believing the conclusion. 9. Appeal to Unqualified Authority (Argumentum ad Verecundiam) We saw in Chapter 1 that an argument from authority is an inductive argument in which an arguer cites the authority or testimony of another person in support of some conclusion. The appeal to unqualified authority fallacy is a variety of the argument from authority and occurs when the cited authority or witness lacks credibility. There are several reasons why an authority or witness might lack credibility. The person might lack the requisite expertise, might be biased or prejudiced, might have a motive to lie or disseminate “misinformation,” or might lack the requisite ability to perceive or recall. The following examples illustrate these reasons: Dr. Bradshaw, our family physician, has stated that the creation of muonic atoms of deuterium and tritium hold the key to producing a sustained nuclear fusion reaction at room temperature. In view of Dr. Bradshaw’s expertise as a physician, we must conclude that this is indeed true. This conclusion deals with nuclear physics, and the authority is a family physician. Because it is unlikely that a physician would be an expert in nuclear physics, the argument commits an appeal to unqualified authority. David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has stated, “Jews are not good Americans. They have no understanding of what America is.” On the basis of Duke’s authority, we must therefore conclude that the Jews in this country are un-American. As an authority, David Duke is clearly biased, so his statements cannot be trusted. James W. Johnston, former Chairman of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, testified before Congress that tobacco is not an addictive substance and that smoking cigarettes does not produce any addiction. Therefore, we should believe him and conclude that smoking does not in fact lead to any addiction. If Mr. Johnston had admitted that tobacco is addictive, it would have opened the door to government regulation, which could put his company out of business. Thus, because Johnston had a clear motive to lie, we should not believe his statements. Old Mrs. Furguson (who is practically blind) has testified that she saw the defendant stab the victim with a bayonet while she was standing in the twilight shadows 100 yards from the incident. Therefore, members of the jury, you must find the defendant guilty. Here the witness lacks the ability to perceive what she has testified to, so her testimony is untrustworthy. Of course if an authority is credible, the resulting argument will contain no fallacy. Example: The county tax collector issued a press release stating that property tax revenues are higher this year than last. Therefore, we conclude that these revenues are indeed higher this year. Normally a county tax collector would be considered a qualified expert in the area of tax revenues, so assuming the tax collector has no reason to lie, this argument is inductively strong. In deciding whether a person is a qualified authority, one should keep two important points in mind. First, the person might be an authority in more than one field. For example, a chemist might also be an authority in biology, or an economist might also be an authority in law. The second point is that there are some areas in which practically no one can be considered an authority. Such areas include politics, morals, and religion. For example, if someone were to argue that abortion is immoral because a certain philosopher or religious leader has said so, the argument would be weak regardless of the authority’s qualifications. Many questions in these areas are so hotly contested that there is no conventional wisdom an authority can depend on. 10. Appeal to Ignorance (Argumentum ad Ignorantiam) When the premises of an argument state that nothing has been proved one way or the other about something, and the conclusion then makes a definite assertion about that thing, the argument commits an appeal to ignorance. The issue usually involves something that is incapable of being proved or something that has not yet been proved. Example: People have been trying for centuries to provide conclusive evidence for the claims of astrology, and no one has ever succeeded. Therefore, we must conclude that astrology is a lot of nonsense. Conversely, the following argument commits the same fallacy. People have been trying for centuries to disprove the claims of astrology, and no one has ever succeeded. Therefore, we must conclude that the claims of astrology are true. The premises of an argument are supposed to provide positive evidence for the conclusion. The premises of these arguments, however, tell us nothing about astrology; rather, they tell us about what certain unnamed and unidentified people have tried unsuccessfully to do. This evidence may provide some slight reason for believing the conclusion, but certainly not sufficient reason. These examples do, however, lead us to the first of two important exceptions to the appeal to ignorance. The first stems from the fact that if qualified researchers investigate a certain phenomenon within their range of expertise and fail to turn up any evidence that the phenomenon exists, this fruitless search by itself constitutes positive evidence about the question. Consider, for example, the following argument: Teams of scientists attempted over several decades to detect the existence of the luminiferous aether, and all failed to do so. Therefore, the luminiferous aether does not exist. The premises of this argument are true. Given the circumstances, it is likely that the scientists in question would have detected the aether if in fact it did exist. Since they did not detect it, it probably does not exist. Thus, we can say that the given argument is inductively strong (but not deductively valid). As for the two arguments about astrology, if the attempts to prove or disprove the astrological claims had been done in a systematic way by qualified experts, the arguments would more likely be good. Exactly what is required to qualify someone to investigate astrological claims is, of course, difficult to say. But as these arguments stand, the premises state nothing about the qualifications of the investigators, and so the arguments remain fallacious. It is not always necessary, however, that the investigators have special qualifications. The kinds of qualifications needed depend on the situation. Sometimes the mere ability to see and report what one sees is sufficient. Example: No one has ever seen Mr. Andrews drink a glass of wine, beer, or any other alcoholic beverage. Probably Mr. Andrews is a nondrinker. Because it is highly probable that if Mr. Andrews were a drinker, somebody would have seen him drinking, this argument is inductively strong. No special qualifications are needed to be able to see someone take a drink. The second exception to the appeal to ignorance relates to courtroom procedure. In the United States and a few other countries, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If the prosecutor in a criminal trial fails to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond reasonable doubt, counsel for the defense may justifiably argue that his or her client is not guilty. Example: Members of the jury, you have heard the prosecution present its case against the defendant. Nothing, however, has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, under the law, the defendant is not guilty. This argument commits no fallacy because “not guilty” means, in the legal sense, that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt has not been proved. The defendant may indeed have committed the crime of which he or she is accused, but if the prosecutor fails to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is considered “not guilty.” 11. Hasty Generalization (Converse Accident) Hasty generalization is a fallacy that affects inductive generalizations. In Chapter 1 we saw that an inductive generalization is an argument that draws a conclusion about all members of a group from evidence that pertains to a selected sample. The fallacy occurs when there is a reasonable likelihood that the sample is not representative of the group. Such a likelihood may arise if the sample is either too small or not randomly selected. Here are two examples: Today’s money managers are a pack of thieves, every last one of them. Look at Bernie Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford. They ripped off billions of dollars from thousands of trusting clients. And Raj Rajaratnam profited to the tune of millions of dollars through illegal insider trading. The mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater was carried out by a young, white male. The school shootings in Roseburg, Santa Barbara, and Newtown were all carried out by young, white males. The evidence is clear. Young, white males are a serious threat to public safety. In these arguments a conclusion about a whole group is drawn from premises that mention only a few instances. Because such small, atypical samples are not sufficient to support a general conclusion, each argument commits a hasty generalization. The mere fact that a sample is small, however, does not necessarily mean that it is atypical. On the other hand, the mere fact that a sample is large does not guarantee that it is typical. In the case of small samples, various factors may intervene that render such a sample typical of the larger group. Examples: Ten milligrams of substance Z was fed to four mice, and within two minutes all four went into shock and died. Probably substance Z, in this amount, is fatal to mice in general. On three separate occasions I drank a bottle of Figowitz beer and found it flat and bitter. Probably I would find every bottle of Figowitz beer flat and bitter. Neither of these arguments commits the fallacy of hasty generalization, because in neither case is there any likelihood that the sample is atypical of the group. In the first argument the fact that the mice died in only two minutes suggests the existence of a causal connection between eating substance Z and death. If there is such a connection, it would hold for other mice as well. In the second example the fact that the taste of beer typically remains constant from bottle to bottle causes the argument to be strong, even though only three bottles were sampled. In the case of large samples, if the sample is not random, it may not be typical of the larger group. Example: One hundred thousand voters from Orange County, California, were surveyed on their choice for governor, and 68 percent said they intend to vote for the Republican candidate. Clearly the Republican candidate will be elected. Even though the sample cited in this argument is large, the argument commits a hasty generalization. The problem is that Orange County is overwhelmingly Republican, so the mere fact that 68 percent intend to vote for the Republican candidate is no indication of how others in the state intend to vote. In other words, the survey was not conducted randomly, and for this reason the sample is biased. The need for randomness in samples is discussed further in Chapter 12 of this book. Hasty generalization is otherwise called “converse accident” because it proceeds in a direction opposite to that of accident. Whereas accident proceeds from the general to the particular, converse accident moves from the particular to the general. The premises cite some characteristic affecting one or more atypical instances of a certain class, and the conclusion then applies that characteristic to all members of the class. Eminent Logicians William of Ockham ca. 1285–1347 The English philosopher and theologian, William of Ockham, was born in or near the village of Ockham not far from London. Little is known about his childhood, and his biographers are not even certain about the year of his birth, with estimates running from 1280 to 1290. However, they are certain that while Ockham was still a small boy, his parents delivered him to the nearest Franciscan monastery to be brought up in the monastic way of life. His parents’ intentions were realized when he entered the Franciscan Order and was ordained in 1306. Ockham studied theology at Oxford, possibly under Duns Scotus, and he lectured there. He also studied and taught at the University of Paris, where he wrote extensively on theology and philosophy. Ockham’s theological views generated controversy among theologians of the day, some of whom vehemently opposed him. In 1324, he was called to Avignon, then the location of the papal court, to answer charges of heresy. A panel of scholars had been appointed to review the charges made against Ockham, and he was obliged to remain at a Franciscan house in Avignon throughout the investigation, which lasted four years. During this time, the Franciscan minister general, Michael of Cesena, was called to Avignon, because he had become embroiled in a controversy with Pope John XXII over the issue of the poverty of Jesus and the apostles. Michael held that Jesus and the apostles did not own property but instead survived through goodwill offerings of people in the community. The Franciscans regarded themselves as emulating the model set by Jesus and the apostles, but the pope, who lived in luxury, obviously disagreed. Though Ockham had more than enough problems of his own, the minister general asked him to research the issue to see which position was right—the pope’s or the minister general’s. Ockham ultimately came out on the side of the minister general, claiming that the pope was a heretic and had no business even being pope. This got the Avignon Franciscans into a great deal of trouble, and to extricate themselves they purloined several horses and rode out of town in the middle of the night. Ludwig of Bavaria, the Holy Roman Emperor, gave them protection, and Ockham lived out the rest of his life in Munich. While there he turned his attention to politics and political philosophy. He was a staunch advocate of the separation of church and state, claiming that the pope had no right to intervene in state affairs. The pope retaliated by excommunicating him. The Granger Collection, NYC Ockham is best known for endorsing a principle of parsimony that has come to be called “Ockham’s razor.” This principle states that, among alternative explanations, the simplest one is the best. Ockham emphasized the importance of keeping the number of entities hypothesized in an explanation to an absolute minimum. In the area of logic, he is known for his theory of truth conditions for categorical propositions, for work in the foundations of inductive reasoning, for preliminary work on a three-valued logic, and for developing a close approximation to what would later come to be known as De Morgan’s rule. 12. False Cause The fallacy of false cause occurs whenever the link between premises and conclusion depends on some imagined causal connection that probably does not exist. Whenever an argument is suspected of committing the false cause fallacy, the reader or listener should be able to say that the conclusion depends on the supposition that X causes Y, whereas X probably does not cause Y at all. Examples: During the past two months, every time that the cheerleaders have worn blue ribbons in their hair, the basketball team has been defeated. Therefore, to prevent defeats in the future, the cheerleaders should get rid of those blue ribbons. Successful business executives are paid salaries in excess of $100,000. Therefore, the best way to ensure that Ferguson will become a successful executive is to raise his salary to at least $100,000. There are more laws on the books today than ever before, and more crimes are being committed than ever before. Therefore, to reduce crime we must eliminate the laws. The first argument depends on the supposition that the blue ribbons caused the defeats, the second on the supposition that a high salary causes success, and the third on the supposition that laws cause crime. In no case is it likely that any causal connection exists. The first argument illustrates a variety of the false cause fallacy called post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore on account of this”). This variety of the fallacy presupposes that just because one event precedes another event, the first event causes the second. Obviously, mere temporal succession is not sufficient to establish a causal connection. Nevertheless, this kind of reasoning is quite common and lies behind most forms of superstition. (Example: “A black cat crossed my path and later I tripped and sprained my ankle. It must be that black cats really are bad luck.”) The second and third arguments illustrate a variety of the false cause fallacy called non causa pro causa (“not the cause for the cause”). This variety is committed when what is taken to be the cause of something is not really the cause at all and the mistake is based on something other than mere temporal succession. In reference to the second argument, success as an executive causes increases in salary—not the other way around—so the argument mistakes the cause for the effect. In reference to the third argument, the increase in crime is, for the most part, only coincidental with the increase in the number of laws. Obviously, the mere fact that one event is coincidental with another is not sufficient reason to think that one caused the other. A third variety of the false cause fallacy, and one that is probably committed more often than either of the others in their pure form, is oversimplified cause. This variety occurs when a multitude of causes is responsible for a certain effect but the arguer selects just one of these causes and represents it as if it were the sole cause. Here are some examples: The quality of education in our grade schools and high schools has been declining for years. Clearly, our teachers just aren’t doing their job these days. Today, all of us can look forward to a longer life span than our parents and grandparents. Obviously we owe our thanks to the millions of dedicated doctors who expend every effort to ensure our health. In reference to the first argument, the decline in the quality of education is caused by many factors, including lack of discipline in the home, lack of parental involvement, too much television, too much time spent on video games, and drug use by students. Poor teacher performance is only one of these factors and probably a minor one at that. In the second argument, the efforts of doctors are only one among many factors responsible for our longer life span. Other, more important factors include a better diet, more exercise, reduced smoking, safer highways, and more-stringent occupational safety standards. The oversimplified cause fallacy is usually motivated by self-serving interests. Sometimes the arguer wants to take undeserved credit for himself or herself or give undeserved credit to some movement with which he or she is affiliated. At other times, the arguer wants to heap blame on an opponent or shift blame from himself or herself onto some convenient occurrence. Instances of the fallacy can resemble either the post hoc or the non causa pro causa varieties in that the alleged cause can occur either prior to or concurrently with the effect. It differs from the other varieties of false cause fallacy in that the single factor selected for credit or blame is often partly responsible for the effect, but responsible to only a minor degree. The last variety of false cause we will consider is called the gambler’s fallacy. This fallacy is committed whenever the conclusion of an argument depends on the supposition that independent events in a game of chance are causally related. Here is an example: A fair coin was flipped five times in a row, and each time it came up heads. Therefore, it is extremely likely that it will come up tails on the next flip. In fact, it is no more likely that the coin will come up tails on the next flip than it was on the first flip. Each flip is an independent event, so earlier flips have no causal influence on later ones. Thus, the fact that the earlier flips came up heads does not increase the likelihood that the next flip will come up tails. For the gambler’s fallacy to be committed, the events must be independent or nearly independent. Such events include rolls of a pair of fair (unloaded) dice, spins of a fair roulette wheel, and selections of lottery winning numbers. Events are not completely independent whenever the skill of the gambler affects the outcome. Thus, poker, blackjack, and horse-race betting provide less-than-perfect candidates for the gambler’s fallacy. The false cause fallacy is often convincing because it is often difficult to determine whether two phenomena are causally related. A lengthy time lapse between the operation of the cause and the occurrence of the effect can exacerbate the problem. For example, the thirty-year interval between exposure to asbestos and the onset of asbestosis impeded the recognition of a causal connection. Also, when two events are causally related, determining the degree of relatedness may be hard. Thus, there may be some connection between the electromagnetic field produced by high-voltage transmission lines and leukemia, but the connection may be extremely slight. Finally, when a causal connection is recognized, it may be difficult to determine which is the cause and which is the effect. For example, an allergic reaction may be connected with an episode of anxiety, but it may be hard to tell if the reaction causes the anxiety or if the anxiety causes the reaction. The realm of human action constitutes another area in which causal connections are notoriously difficult to establish. For example, the attorneys for accused murderer Dan White argued that Twinkies, Coke, and potato chips caused him to kill San Francisco mayor George Moscone. Other attorneys have blamed their clients’ crimes on PMS, rap music, childhood abuse, mental retardation, and hallucinations. The complex nature of human motivation renders all such causal claims difficult to evaluate. The situation may become even worse when a whole nation of people are involved. Thus, the recent drop in crime rates has been attributed to “three strikes” laws, but it is difficult to say whether this or some other factor is really responsible. One point that should be kept in mind when establishing causal connections is that statistical correlations by themselves often reveal little about what is actually going on. For example, if all that we knew about smoking and lung cancer was that the two frequently occur together, we might conclude any number of things. We might conclude that both have a common cause, such as a genetic predisposition, or we might conclude that lung cancer is a disease contracted early in life and that it manifests itself in its early stages by a strong desire for tobacco. Fortunately, in this case we have more evidence than a mere statistical correlation. This additional evidence inclines us to believe that the smoking is a cause of the cancer. 13. Slippery Slope The fallacy of slippery slope is a variety of the false cause fallacy. It occurs when the conclusion of an argument rests on an alleged chain reaction and there is not sufficient reason to think that the chain reaction will actually take place. Here is an example: Immediate steps should be taken to outlaw pornography once and for all. The continued manufacture and sale of pornographic material will almost certainly lead to an increase in sex-related crimes such as rape and incest. This in turn will gradually erode the moral fabric of society and result in an increase in crimes of all sorts. Eventually a complete disintegration of law and order will occur, leading in the end to the total collapse of civilization. Because there is no good reason to think that the mere failure to outlaw pornography will result in all these dire consequences, this argument is fallacious. An equally fallacious counterargument is as follows: Attempts to outlaw pornography threaten basic civil rights and should be summarily abandoned. If pornography is outlawed, censorship of newspapers and news magazines is only a short step away. After that there will be censorship of textbooks, political speeches, and the content of lectures delivered by university professors. Complete mind control by the central government will be the inevitable result. Both arguments attempt to persuade the reader or listener that the welfare of society rests on a “slippery slope” and that a single step in the wrong direction will result in an inevitable slide all the way to the bottom. The slippery slope fallacy can involve various kinds of causality. For example, someone might argue that removing a single brick from a building would set off a chain reaction leading to the destruction of the building, or that chopping down a tall tree would set off a cascade of falling trees leading to the destruction of the forest. These arguments depend on pure physical causality. On the other hand, someone might argue that starting a rumor about the health of the economy would set off a chain reaction leading to the collapse of the stock market. Such an argument would depend on the kind of causality found in interpersonal communications. The following example involves a chain reaction of mental causes where wanting one thing leads to wanting another. Professor Fallon has asked us to purchase a coffeemaker for her office. But we shouldn’t do that because next she’ll want a microwave, and then a convection oven. Then she’ll want a full-sized refrigerator, a sink with hot and cold water, a dishwasher, and a complete set of expensive china. This will exhaust the budget of our department. Two points to keep in mind about slippery slope are first, in real-life situations, the fallacy is almost always used to defend the status quo against some kind of attack. The strategy is to make the reader and listener fear change—to fear it so much that they will cling rigidly to the prevailing state of affairs even if it is thoroughly immoral. For example, prior to the Civil War slippery slope arguments were used over and over again to shut down opposing arguments in favor of abolishing slavery. In a famous debate in Cincinnati in 1845, N. L. Rice, a Presbyterian minister, invited his listeners to imagine what would happen if slavery were abolished forthright. In no time former slaves would be given the right to vote: Then a colored man might be the next governor [of states having a black majority]; and colored men might constitute their Legislature, and sit on the bench as judges in their courts. Thus the entire administration in those States would be placed in the hands of degraded men, wholly ignorant of the principles of law and government. As a result, Mr. Rice wants us to believe, the government will collapse. The second point to keep in mind is that in every case of a slippery slope fallacy the chain of causes is neither inevitable nor necessary. Somewhere along the line there are one or more links that are likely to fail. In the case of the anti-abolitionist argument, one weak link was the supposition that freed slaves, once given the right to vote, would actually be allowed to vote. As it turned out, they were not. There were poll taxes, literacy tests, threats, and intimidation. Another weak link was the supposition that slaves, once given the right to vote, would run for public office. They did not. A similar critique applies to contemporary slippery slope arguments used to crush support for physician-assisted suicide. Example: Allowing a physician to assist a terminally ill patient to end his life may seem innocent enough to start with. But if this practice is allowed to get a foothold, death at the hands of a physician will become commonplace. Physicians will think nothing of administering a lethal injection, and in no time patients will be killed against their will. For these reasons, physician-assisted suicide should never be allowed. This argument is probably fallacious because the chain of causes leading from the innocent first step to the final calamity is far from assured. If physician-assisted suicide were made lawful and the abuses envisioned by this argument began to occur, there is reason to believe that the medical community would step in and call for corrective measures. Also, as suspicious deaths began to mount up, law enforcement would step in. Thus, in critiquing slippery slope arguments it is always important to examine carefully the chain of causes and look for weak links. 14. Weak Analogy This fallacy affects inductive arguments from analogy. As we saw in Chapter 1, an argument from analogy is an argument in which the conclusion depends on the existence of an analogy, or similarity, between two things or situations. The fallacy of weak analogy is committed when the analogy is not strong enough to support the conclusion that is drawn. Example: Amber’s dog is similar in many ways to Kyle’s cat. Both like being petted, they enjoy being around people, they beg for food at the dinner table, and they sleep with their owners. Amber’s dog loves to romp on the beach with Amber. Therefore, Kyle’s cat probably loves to romp on the beach with Kyle. In this argument the similarities cited between Amber’s dog and Kyle’s cat probably have nothing to do with the cat’s attitude toward romping on the beach. Thus, the argument is fallacious. The basic structure of an argument from analogy is as follows: Entity A has attributes a, b, c, and z. Entity B has attributes a, b, c. Therefore, entity B probably has attribute z also. Evaluating an argument having this form requires a two-step procedure: • (1) Identify the attributes a, b, c,… that the two entities A and B share, and • (2) determine how the attribute z, mentioned in the conclusion, relates to the attributes a, b, c,… If some causal or systematic relation exists between z and a, b, or c, the argument is strong; otherwise, it is weak. In the given example, the two entities share the attributes of liking to be petted, enjoying people, begging for food, and sleeping with their owners. Because it is highly probable that none of these attributes is systematically or causally related to romping on the beach, the argument is fallacious. As an illustration of when the requisite systematic or causal relation does and does not exist, consider the following arguments: The flow of electricity through a wire is similar to the flow of water through a pipe. Obviously a large-diameter pipe will carry a greater flow of water than a pipe of small diameter. Therefore, a large-diameter wire should carry a greater flow of electricity than a small-diameter wire. The flow of electricity through a wire is similar to the flow of water through a pipe. When water runs downhill through a pipe, the pressure at the bottom of the hill is greater than it is at the top. Thus, when electricity flows downhill through a wire, the voltage should be greater at the bottom of the hill than at the top. The first argument is good and the second is fallacious. Both arguments depend on the similarity between water molecules flowing through a pipe and electrons flowing through a wire. In both cases there is a systematic relation between the diameter of the pipe/wire and the amount of flow. In the first argument this systematic relation provides a strong link between premises and conclusion, and so the argument is a good one. But in the second argument a causal connection exists between difference in elevation and increase in pressure that holds for water but not for electricity. Water molecules flowing through a pipe are significantly affected by gravity, but electrons flowing through a wire are not. Thus, the second argument is fallacious. The theory and evaluation of arguments from analogy is one of the most complex and elusive subjects in all of logic. Additional material on arguments from analogy appears in Section 3.5 and Chapter 9 of this text. 3.4Fallacies of Presumption, Ambiguity, and Illicit Transference How Logical Are You? • Suppose you are pulled over for speeding. Upon walking up to your car, the officer asks you, “Where have you hidden the drugs?” Is there a flaw in the officer’s question? If so, what is it? How would you reply to the officer? Answer There is a flaw in the officer’s question, which combines two questions into one: (1) Do you have any drugs, and (2) If you have any drugs, where are they? In this section of the chapter you will learn that the officer’s question amounts to a kind of logical fallacy called complex question. The fallacies of presumption include begging the question, complex question, false dichotomy, and suppressed evidence. These fallacies arise not because the premises are irrelevant to the conclusion or provide insufficient reason for believing the conclusion but because the premises presume what they purport to prove. Begging the question presumes that the premises provide adequate support for the conclusion when in fact they do not, and complex question presumes that a question can be answered by a simple “yes,” “no,” or other brief answer when a more sophisticated answer is needed. False dichotomy presumes that an “either … or …” statement presents jointly exhaustive alternatives when in fact it does not, and suppressed evidence presumes that no important evidence has been overlooked by the premises when in fact it has. The fallacies of ambiguity include equivocation and amphiboly. These fallacies arise from the occurrence of some form of ambiguity in either the premises or the conclusion (or both). As we saw in Section 2.1, an expression is ambiguous if it is susceptible to different interpretations in a given context. The words “light” and “bank” are ambiguous, as is the statement “Tuna are biting off the Washington coast.” When the conclusion of an argument depends on a shift in meaning of an ambiguous word or phrase or on the wrong interpretation of an ambiguous statement, the argument commits a fallacy of ambiguity. The fallacies of illicit transference include composition and division. Arguments that commit these fallacies involve the incorrect transference of an attribute from the parts of something onto the whole, or from the whole onto the parts. 15. Begging the Question (Petitio Principii) The fallacy of begging the question is committed whenever the arguer creates the illusion that inadequate premises provide adequate support for the conclusion by leaving out a possibly false (shaky) key premise, by restating a possibly false premise as the conclusion, or by reasoning in a circle. The Latin name for this fallacy, petitio principii, means “request for the source.” The actual source of support for the conclusion is not apparent, and so the argument is said to beg the question. After reading or hearing the argument, the observer is inclined to ask, “But how do you know X?” where X is the needed support. The first, and most common, way of committing this fallacy is by leaving a possibly false key premise out of the argument while creating the illusion that nothing more is needed to establish the conclusion. Examples: Murder is morally wrong. This being the case, it follows that abortion is morally wrong. We know that humans are intended to eat lots of fruit because the human hand and arm are perfectly suited for picking fruit from a tree. It’s obvious that the poor in this country should be given handouts from the government. After all, these people earn less than the average citizen. Clearly, terminally ill patients have a right to doctor-assisted suicide. After all, many of these people are unable to commit suicide by themselves. The first of these arguments begs the question “How do you know that abortion is a form of murder?” The second begs the question “Does the structure and function of the human hand and arm tell us what humans should eat?” And the third and fourth beg the questions “Just because the poor earn less than the average citizen, does this imply that the government should give them handouts?” and “Just because terminally ill patients cannot commit suicide by themselves, does it follow that they have a right to a doctor’s assistance?” These questions indicate that something has been left out of the original arguments. Thus, the first argument is missing the premise “Abortion is a form of murder”; the second is missing the premise “The structure and function of the human hand and arm tell us what humans should eat”; and so on. These premises are crucial for the soundness of the arguments. If the arguer is unable to establish the truth of these premises, then the arguments prove nothing. However, in most cases of begging the question, this is precisely the reason why such premises are left unstated. The arguer is not able to establish their truth, and by employing rhetorical phraseology such as “of course,” “clearly,” “this being the case,” and “after all,” the arguer hopes to create the illusion that the stated premise, by itself, provides adequate support for the conclusion when in fact it does not. The same form of begging the question often appears in arguments concerning religious topics to justify conclusions about the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and so on. Example: The world in which we live displays an amazing degree of organization. Obviously this world was created by an intelligent God. This argument begs the question “How do you know that the organization in the world could only have come from an intelligent creator?” Of course the claim that it did come from an intelligent creator may well be true, but the burden is on the arguer to prove it. Without supporting reasons or evidence, the argument proves nothing. Yet most people who are predisposed to believe the conclusion are likely to accept the argument as a good one. The same can be said of most arguments that beg the question, and this fact suggests another reason why arguers resort to this fallacy: Such arguments tend to reinforce preexisting inclinations and beliefs. The second form of petitio principii occurs when the conclusion of an argument merely restates a possibly false premise in slightly different language. In such an argument, the premise supports the conclusion, and the conclusion tends to reinforce the premise. Examples: Capital punishment is justified for the crimes of murder and kidnapping because it is quite legitimate and appropriate that someone be put to death for having committed such hateful and inhuman acts. Anyone who preaches revolution has a vision of the future for the simple reason that if a person has no vision of the future he could not possibly preach revolution. In the first argument, saying that capital punishment is “justified” means the same thing as saying that it is “legitimate and appropriate,” and in the second argument the premise and the conclusion say exactly the same thing. However, by repeating the same thing in slightly different language, the arguer creates the illusion that independent evidence is being presented in support of the conclusion, when in fact it is not. Both arguments contain rhetorical phraseology (“hateful and inhuman,” “simple reason,” and “could not possibly”) that help effect the illusion. The first argument begs the question “How do you know that capital punishment really is legitimate and appropriate?” and the second begs the question “How do you know that people who preach revolution really do have a vision of the future?” The third form of petitio principii involves circular reasoning in a chain of inferences having a first premise that is possibly false. Example: Verizon has the best wireless service. After all, their phones have the clearest sound. And we know this is so because customers hear better on Verizon phones. And this follows from the fact that Verizon has digital technology. But this is exactly what you would expect given that Verizon has the best wireless service. On encountering this argument, the attentive reader is inclined to ask, “Where does this reasoning begin? What is its source?” Since the argument goes in a circle, it has no beginning or source, and as a result it proves nothing. Of course, in this example the circularity is rather apparent, so the argument is not likely to convince anyone. Cases in which circular reasoning may convince involve long and complex arguments having premises that depend on one another in subtle ways and a possibly false key premise that depends on the conclusion. In all cases of begging the question, the arguer uses some linguistic device to create the illusion that inadequate premises provide adequate support for a conclusion. Without such an illusion, the fallacy is not committed. Thus, the following arguments commit no fallacy: No dogs are cats. Therefore, no cats are dogs. London is in England and Paris is in France. Therefore, Paris is in France and London is in England. In both of these examples, the premise amounts to little more than a restatement of the conclusion. Yet both arguments are sound because they are valid and have true premises. No fallacy is committed, because no illusion is created to make inadequate premises appear as adequate. We will study arguments of this sort in Chapters 4 and 7. Here is another example: Rome is in Germany or Rome is in Germany. Therefore, Rome is in Germany. This argument is valid, but it is unsound because it has a false premise. However, it commits no fallacy because, again, no illusion is created to cover anything up. Arguments having this form also appear in Chapter 7. As with these examples, arguments that beg the question are normally valid. This is easy to see. Any argument that includes the conclusion as one of the premises is clearly valid, and those forms of the fallacy that leave a key premise out of the argument become valid when that key premise is introduced. The problem with arguments that beg the question is that they are usually unsound, or at least not clearly sound, because the premise needed to provide adequate support for the conclusion is, at best, of uncertain truth value. Because such arguments presume the truth of this premise, begging the question is called a fallacy of presumption. 16. Complex Question The fallacy of complex question is committed when two (or more) questions are asked in the guise of a single question and a single answer is then given to both of them. Every complex question presumes the existence of a certain condition. When the respondent’s answer is added to the complex question, an argument emerges that establishes the presumed condition. Thus, although not an argument as such, a complex question involves an implicit argument. This argument is usually intended to trap the respondent into acknowledging something that he or she might otherwise not want to acknowledge. Examples: Have you stopped cheating on exams? Where did you hide the marijuana you were smoking? Let us suppose the respondent answers “yes” to the first question and “under the bed” to the second. The following arguments emerge: You were asked whether you have stopped cheating on exams. You answered, “Yes.” Therefore, it follows that you have cheated in the past. You were asked where you hid the marijuana you were smoking. You replied, “Under the bed.” It follows that you were in fact smoking marijuana. On the other hand, let us suppose that the respondent answers “no” to the first question and “nowhere” to the second. We then have the following arguments: You were asked whether you have stopped cheating on exams. You answered, “No.” Therefore, you continue to cheat. You were asked where you hid the marijuana you were smoking. You answered, “Nowhere.” It follows that you must have smoked all of it. Obviously, each of the questions is really two questions: Did you cheat on exams in the past? If you did cheat in the past, have you stopped now? Were you smoking marijuana? If you were smoking it, where did you hide it? If respondents are not sophisticated enough to identify a complex question when one is put to them, they may answer quite innocently and be trapped by a conclusion that is supported by no evidence at all; or, they may be tricked into providing the evidence themselves. The correct response lies in resolving the complex question into its component questions and answering each separately. The fallacy of complex question should be distinguished from another kind of question known in law as a leading question. A leading question is one in which the answer is in some way suggested in the question. Whether or not a question is a leading one is important in the direct examination of a witness by counsel. Example: Tell us, on April 9, did you see the defendant shoot the deceased? (leading question) Tell us, what did you see on April 9? (straight question) Leading questions differ from complex questions in that they involve no logical fallacies—that is, they do not attempt to trick the respondent into admitting something he or she does not want to admit. To distinguish between the two, however, one sometimes needs to know whether prior questions have been asked. Here are some additional examples of complex questions: Are you going to be a good little boy and eat your hamburger? Is George Hendrix still telling lies? How long must I put up with your snotty behavior? When are you going to stop talking nonsense? 17. False Dichotomy The fallacy of false dichotomy is committed when a disjunctive (“either … or …”) premise presents two unlikely alternatives as if they were the only ones available, and the arguer then eliminates the undesirable alternative, leaving the desirable one as the conclusion. Such an argument is clearly valid, but since the disjunctive premise is false, or at least probably false, the argument is typically unsound. The fallacy is often committed by children when arguing with their parents, by advertisers, and by adults generally. Here are three examples: Either you let me attend the P!nk concert or I’ll be miserable for the rest of my life. I know you don’t want me to be miserable for the rest of my life, so it follows that you’ll let me attend the concert. Either you use Ultra Guard deodorant or you risk the chance of perspiration odor. Surely you don’t want to risk the chance of perspiration odor. Therefore, you will want to use Ultra Guard deodorant. Either we adopt a one-world government, or regional wars will continue forever. We certainly can’t tolerate constant war. Therefore, we must adopt a one-world government. In none of these arguments does the disjunctive premise present the only alternatives available, but in each case the arguer tries to convey that impression. For example, in the first argument, the arguer tries to convey the impression that he or she either goes to the concert or faces a lifetime of misery, and that no other alternatives are possible. Clearly, however, this is not the case. The fallacious nature of false dichotomy lies in the creation of an illusion that the disjunctive premise presents jointly exhaustive alternatives. If it did, the premise would be true of necessity. For example, the statement “Either Reno is in Nevada, or it is not in Nevada” presents jointly exhaustive alternatives and is true of necessity. But in the fallacy of false dichotomy, not only do the two alternatives fail to be jointly exhaustive, but they are not even likely. As a result, the disjunctive premise is false, or at least probably false. Thus, the fallacy amounts to making a false or probably false premise appear true. Also, if one of the alternatives in the disjunctive premise is factually true beyond any doubt, then the fallacy is not committed. For example, the following argument is valid and sound: Either Seattle is in Washington, or it is in Oregon. Seattle is not in Oregon. Therefore, Seattle is in Washington False dichotomy is otherwise called “false bifurcation” and the “either-or fallacy.” Also, in most cases the arguer expresses only the disjunctive premise and leaves it to the reader or listener to supply the missing statements: Either you buy me a new mink coat, or I’ll freeze to death when winter comes. Either I continue smoking, or I’ll get fat and you’ll hate to be seen with me. The missing premise and conclusion are easily introduced. 18. Suppressed Evidence Chapter 1 explained that a cogent argument is an inductive argument with good reasoning and true premises. The requirement of true premises includes the proviso that the premises not ignore some important piece of evidence that outweighs the presented evidence and entails a very different conclusion. If an inductive argument does indeed ignore such evidence, then the argument commits the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Consider, for example, the following argument: Most dogs are friendly and pose no threat to people who pet them. Therefore, it would be safe to pet the little dog that is approaching us now. If the arguer ignores the fact that the little dog is excited and foaming at the mouth (which suggests rabies), then the argument commits a suppressed evidence fallacy. This fallacy is classified as a fallacy of presumption because it works by creating the presumption that the premises are both true and complete when in fact they are not. Perhaps the most common occurrence of the suppressed evidence fallacy appears in inferences based on advertisements. Nearly every ad neglects to mention certain negative features of the product advertised. As a result, an observer who sees or hears an advertisement and then draws a conclusion from it may commit the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Example: The ad for Kentucky Fried Chicken says, “Buy a bucket of chicken and have a barrel of fun!” Therefore, if we buy a bucket of that chicken, we will be guaranteed to have lots of fun. The ad fails to state that the fun does not come packaged with the chicken but must be supplied by the buyer. Also, of course, the ad fails to state that the chicken is loaded with fat and that the buyer’s resultant weight gain and clogged arteries may not amount to a barrel of fun. By ignoring these facts, the argument based on the ad is fallacious. Another rich source of the suppressed evidence fallacy is the biennial U.S. general election in which two candidates, usually a Republican and a Democrat, compete with each other for a single office. During the campaign leading up to the election countless speech makers (including the candidates themselves) tear down the policies and accomplishments of the candidate they oppose only to conclude that the candidate they favor should be elected. Example: Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Smith has supported policies that will bankrupt Medicare and Social Security, his budgetary recommendations increase the federal deficit, and his approach to foreign policy will destabilize the Middle East. Therefore, you should vote to elect Jones to this office. What the speaker fails to mention are the many undisputed successes that Smith has achieved. Also, he fails to mention that Jones is even less qualified than Smith for the office, and that Jones’s policies bode even worse for Medicare, Social Security, the federal deficit, and the Middle East. When these unmentioned facts are taken into account it becomes clear that it is actually Smith who should be elected. Another way that an arguer can commit the suppressed evidence fallacy is by ignoring important events that have occurred with the passage of time that render an inductive conclusion improbable. The following argument resembles one that Mitt Romney used in a presidential debate with Barack Obama: The U.S. military has fewer battleships, M1 rifles, and horse-drawn howitzers today than it did in 1940. Therefore, the U.S. military is a less effective fighting force today than it was in 1940. The argument ignores that fact that battleships, M1 rifles, and horse-drawn howitzers became obsolete long ago and have been replaced by more-effective ships and weaponry. Thus, it is not true that the U.S. military is less effective today than it was in 1940. Yet another form of suppressed evidence is committed by arguers who quote passages out of context from sources such as the Bible, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights to support a conclusion that the passage was not intended to support. Consider, for example, the following argument against gun control: The Second Amendment to the Constitution states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. But a law controlling handguns would infringe the right to keep and bear arms. Therefore, a law controlling handguns would be unconstitutional. In fact, the Second Amendment reads, “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In other words, the constitutional right to keep and bear arms is in some way related to the preservation of a well-regulated militia. Arguably a law controlling handguns that is unrelated to the preservation of a well-regulated militia could be constitutional. The suppressed evidence fallacy is similar to the form of begging the question in which the arguer leaves a key premise out of the argument. The difference is that suppressed evidence leaves out a premise that requires a different conclusion, while that form of begging the question leaves out a premise that is needed to support the stated conclusion. However, because both fallacies proceed by leaving a premise out of the argument, there are cases where the two fallacies overlap 19. Equivocation The fallacy of equivocation occurs when the conclusion of an argument depends on the fact that a word or phrase is used, either explicitly or implicitly, in two different senses in the argument. Such arguments are either invalid or have a false premise, and in either case they are unsound. Examples: Some triangles are obtuse. Whatever is obtuse is ignorant. Therefore, some triangles are ignorant. Any law can be repealed by the legislative authority. But the law of gravity is a law. Therefore, the law of gravity can be repealed by the legislative authority. We have a duty to do what is right. We have a right to speak out in defense of the innocent. Therefore, we have a duty to speak out in defense of the innocent. A mouse is an animal. Therefore, a large mouse is a large animal. In the first argument “obtuse” is used in two different senses. In the first premise it describes a certain kind of angle, whereas in the second it means dull or stupid. The second argument equivocates on the word “law.” In the first premise it means statutory law, and in the second it means law of nature. The third argument uses “right” in two senses. In the first premise “right” means morally correct, but in the second it means a just claim or power. The fourth argument illustrates the ambiguous use of a relative word. The word “large” means different things depending on the context. Other relative words that are susceptible to this same kind of ambiguity include “small,” “good,” “bad,” “light,” “heavy,” “difficult,” “easy,” “tall,” and “short.” To be convincing, an argument that commits an equivocation must use the equivocal word in ways that are subtly related. Of the examples just given, only the third might fulfill this requirement. Since both uses of the word “right” are related to ethics, the unalert observer may not notice the shift in meaning. Another technique is to spread the shift in meaning out over the course of a lengthy argument. Political speech makers often use phrases such as “equal opportunity,” “gun control,” “national security,” and “environmental protection” in one way at the beginning of a speech and in quite another way at the end. A third technique consists in using such phrases one way in a speech to one group and in a different way in a speech to an opposing group. If the same people are not present at both speeches, the equivocation is not detected. 20. Amphiboly The fallacy of amphiboly occurs when the arguer misinterprets an ambiguous statement and then draws a conclusion based on this faulty interpretation. The original statement is usually asserted by someone other than the arguer, and the ambiguity usually arises from a mistake in grammar or punctuation—a missing comma, a dangling modifier, an ambiguous antecedent of a pronoun, or some other careless arrangement of words. Because of this ambiguity, the statement may be understood in two clearly distinguishable ways. The arguer typically selects the unintended interpretation and proceeds to draw a conclusion based on it. Here are some examples: The tour guide said that standing in Greenwich Village, the Empire State Building could easily be seen. It follows that the Empire State Building is in Greenwich Village. John told Henry that he had made a mistake. It follows that John has at least the courage to admit his own mistakes. Professor Johnson said that he will give a lecture about heart failure in the biology lecture hall. It must be the case that a number of heart failures have occurred there recently. The premise of the first argument contains a dangling modifier. Is it the observer or the Empire State Building that is supposed to be standing in Greenwich Village? The factually correct interpretation is the former. In the second argument the pronoun “he” has an ambiguous antecedent; it can refer either to John or to Henry. Perhaps John told Henry that Henry had made a mistake. In the third argument the ambiguity concerns what takes place in the biology lecture hall; is it the lecture or the heart failures? The correct interpretation is probably the former. The ambiguity can be eliminated by inserting commas (“Professor Johnson said that he will give a lecture, about heart failure, in the biology lecture hall”) or by moving the ambiguous modifier (“Professor Johnson said that he will give a lecture in the biology lecture hall about heart failure”). Ambiguities of this sort are called syntactical ambiguities. Two areas where cases of amphiboly cause serious problems involve contracts and wills. The drafters of these documents often express their intentions in terms of ambiguous statements, and alternate interpretations of these statements then lead to different conclusions. Examples: Mrs. Hart stated in her will, “I leave my 500-carat diamond necklace and my pet chinchilla to Alice and Theresa.” Therefore, we conclude that Alice gets the necklace and Theresa gets the chinchilla. Mr. James signed a contract that reads, “In exchange for painting my house, I promise to pay David $5,000 and give him my new Cadillac only if he finishes the job by May 1.” Therefore, since David did not finish until May 10, it follows that he gets neither the $5,000 nor the Cadillac. In the first example the conclusion obviously favors Alice. Theresa is almost certain to argue that the gift of the necklace and chinchilla should be shared equally by her and Alice. Mrs. Hart could have avoided the dispute by adding either “respectively” or “collectively” to the end of the sentence. In the second example, the conclusion favors Mr. James. David will argue that the condition that he finish by May 1 affected only the Cadillac and that he therefore is entitled to the $5,000. The dispute could have been avoided by properly inserting a comma in the language of the promise. Amphiboly differs from equivocation in two important ways. First, equivocation is always traced to an ambiguity in the meaning of a word or phrase, whereas amphiboly involves a syntactical ambiguity in a statement. The second difference is that amphiboly usually involves a mistake made by the arguer in interpreting an ambiguous statement made by someone else, whereas the ambiguity in equivocation is typically the arguer’s own creation. If these distinctions are kept in mind, it is usually easy to distinguish amphiboly from equivocation. Occasionally, however, the two fallacies occur together, as the following example illustrates: The Great Western Cookbook recommends that we serve the oysters when thoroughly stewed. Apparently the delicate flavor is enhanced by the intoxicated condition of the diners. First, it is unclear whether “stewed” refers to the oysters or to the diners, and so the argument commits an amphiboly. But if “stewed” refers to the oysters it means “cooked,” and if it refers to the diners it means “intoxicated.” Thus, the argument also involves an equivocation. 21. Composition The fallacy of composition is committed when the conclusion of an argument depends on the erroneous transference of an attribute from the parts of something onto the whole. In other words, the fallacy occurs when it is argued that because the parts have a certain attribute, it follows that the whole has that attribute, too, and the situation is such that the attribute in question cannot be legitimately transferred from parts to whole. Examples: Maria likes anchovies. She also likes chocolate ice cream. Therefore, it is certain that she would like a chocolate sundae topped with anchovies. Each player on this basketball team is an excellent athlete. Therefore, the team as a whole is excellent. Each atom in this teacup is invisible. Therefore, this teacup is invisible. Sodium and chlorine, the atomic components of salt, are both deadly poisons. Therefore, salt is a deadly poison. In these arguments the attributes that are transferred from the parts onto the whole are designated by the words “Maria likes,” “excellent,” “invisible,” and “deadly poison,” respectively. In each case the transference is illegitimate, and so the argument is fallacious. Not every such transference is illegitimate, however. Consider the following arguments: Every atom in this teacup has mass. Therefore, this teacup has mass. Every component in this picket fence is white. Therefore, the whole fence is white. In each case an attribute (having mass, being white) is transferred from the parts onto the whole, but these transferences are quite legitimate. Indeed, the fact that the atoms have mass is the very reason why the teacup has mass. The same reasoning extends to the fence. Thus, the acceptability of these arguments is attributable, at least in part, to the legitimate transference of an attribute from parts onto the whole. These examples illustrate the fact that the fallacy of composition is indeed an informal fallacy. It cannot be discovered by a mere inspection of the form of an argument—that is, by the mere observation that an attribute is being transferred from parts onto the whole. In addition, detecting this fallacy requires a general knowledge of the situation and of the nature of the attribute being transferred. The critic must be certain that, given the situation, the transference of this particular attribute is incorrect. Further caution is required by the fact that composition is sometimes confused with hasty generalization. The only time this confusion is possible is when the “whole” is a class (such as the class of people in a city or the class of trees in a forest), and the “parts” are the members of the class. In such a case composition proceeds from the members of the class to the class itself. Hasty generalization, on the other hand, proceeds from the specific to the general. Because it is sometimes easy to mistake a statement about a class for a general statement, composition can be mistaken for hasty generalization. Such a mistake can be avoided if one is careful to keep in mind the distinction between these two kinds of statements. This distinction falls back on the difference between the collective and the distributive predication of an attribute. Consider the following statements: Fleas are small. Fleas are numerous. The first statement is a general statement. The attribute of being small is predicated distributively; that is, it is assigned (or distributed) to each and every flea in the class. Each and every flea in the class is said to be small. The second statement, on the other hand, is a statement about a class as a whole, or what we will call a “class statement.” The attribute of being numerous is predicated collectively; in other words, it is assigned not to the individual fleas but to the class of fleas. The meaning of the statement is not that each and every flea is numerous but that the class of fleas is large. To distinguish composition from hasty generalization, therefore, the following procedure should be followed. Examine the conclusion of the argument. If the conclusion is a general statement—that is, a statement in which an attribute is predicated distributively to each and every member of a class—the fallacy committed is hasty generalization. But if the conclusion is a class statement—that is, a statement in which an attribute is predicated collectively to a class as a whole—the fallacy is composition. Example: Less fuel is consumed by a car than by a fire truck. Therefore, less fuel is consumed in the United States by cars than by fire trucks. At first sight this argument might appear to proceed from the specific to the general and, consequently, to commit a hasty generalization. But in fact the conclusion is not a general statement at all but a class statement. The conclusion states that the whole class of cars uses less fuel than does the whole class of fire trucks (which is false, because there are many more cars than fire trucks). Since the attribute of using less fuel is predicated collectively, the fallacy committed is composition. 22. Division The fallacy of division is the exact reverse of composition. As composition goes from parts to whole, division goes from whole to parts. The fallacy is committed when the conclusion of an argument depends on the erroneous transference of an attribute from a whole (or a class) onto its parts (or members). Examples: Salt is a nonpoisonous compound. Therefore, its component elements, sodium and chlorine, are nonpoisonous. This airplane was made in Seattle. Therefore, every component part of this airplane was made in Seattle. The Royal Society is over 300 years old. Professor Thompson is a member of the Royal Society. Therefore, Professor Thompson is over 300 years old. In each case the attribute, designated respectively by the terms “nonpoisonous,” “made in Seattle,” and “over 300 years old,” is illegitimately transferred from the whole or class onto the parts or members. As with the fallacy of composition, however, this kind of transference is sometimes legitimate. The following arguments contain no fallacy: This teacup has mass. Therefore, the atoms that compose this teacup have mass. This field of poppies is uniformly orange. Therefore, the individual poppies are orange. Obviously, one must be acquainted with the situation and the nature of the attribute being transferred to decide whether the fallacy of division is actually committed. Just as composition can sometimes be confused with hasty generalization (converse accident), division can sometimes be confused with accident. As with composition, this confusion can occur only when the “whole” is a class. In such a case, division proceeds from the class to the members, whereas accident proceeds from the general to the specific. Thus, if a class statement is mistaken for a general statement, division may be mistaken for accident. To avoid such a mistake, one should analyze the premises of the argument. If the premises contain a general statement, the fallacy committed is accident; but if they contain a class statement, the fallacy is division. Example: Stanley Steamers have almost disappeared. This car is a Stanley Steamer. Therefore, this car has almost disappeared. The first premise is not a general statement but a class statement. The attribute of having almost disappeared is predicated collectively. Accordingly, the fallacy committed is division, not accident. This example also illustrates how cases of division that involve class statements can include a subtle form of equivocation. In the conclusion, the word “disappeared” means fading from vision, as when the lights are turned down; but in the first premise it means rarely seen. The equivocation is a kind of secondary fallacy that results from the primary fallacy, which is division. The next example shows how division turns up in arguments dealing with averages. The average American family has 2.5 children. The Jones family is an average American family. Therefore, the Jones family has 2.5 children. The statement “The average American family has 2.5 children” is not a general statement, but rather a class statement. The sense of the statement is not that each and every family has 2.5 children, but that the class of families having two parents is reducible to about 55 percent children and 45 percent adults. Thus, once again, the fallacy is division, and not accident.

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