List of Common Fallacies in Arguments

List of Common Fallacies in Arguments

Fallacy #1: Exploitation of strong feelings & emotions

-Pathos on steroids. Shuts down through processes

-Attempt inflame listener’s feelings, rather than offering sound arguments

-The motive is to replace rational thought with a purely emotional reaction

-Also known as “Abuse of Pathos” or “appeal to the mob”

Emotive meaning & persuasion:

-Euphemism – soften harsh statement


-Academies – evolve vocabularies – unique to our disciplines



Fallacy #2: Distinction without a Difference

-Attempting to linguistically differentiate two similar or identical positions

Grounds & claim / warrant is not enough, need backing.

Fallacies resulting from the use of a questionable premise (warrant or gourds)

Questionable premises

-Questionable warrant, grounds, or both

Some commonly heard, but way questionable premises

-“Everybody knows that”

-“Well then prove it isn’t” (switching the burden of proof)

Appeal to Authority:

-We all rely on the expertise of those who know more than we do (doctors)

-However, to accept the word of some source of information in particular an alleged authority without considering that source’s qualifications or mothers is to commit the fallacy of appeal to reason

-Appeal to an irrelevant authority

-Some authorities are more trustworthy / expert than others

-There’s a continuum of expertise” (Some more specialized than others, best information)

-Authorities in one field aren’t necessarily experts in another (irrelevant authority

-Credibility (Ethos) and expertise are two different things

-Any conflict of interest trumps expertise (Questionable Authority)

Inconsistency – Contradicting yourself

Attacking a straw man – top 5 fallacies

-we commit the straw man fallacy when we misrepresent or distort an opponent’s argument, usually in an attempt to make it easier to attack, or so our argument looks better in comparison

False Dilemma (Either-or) Fallacy & False Alternatives

-When we argue there are only 2 possible alternatives

-Or unrealistic

Begging the Question

-“That begs the question”

-“Begging” in this case means “ignoring”

Those who commit this fallacy are ignoring the real question

-Using language that indicates that an important issue is already settled

List of fallacies in arguments (so far)

1.    Exploitation of strong feelings / emotion

-Abuse of pathos, appeal to mob

-React emotionally instead of thinking rationally

2. Distinction without a difference

-Differentiate two things that are the same

3. Appeal to authority

-Only a fallacy if you appeal to an irrelevant authority / questionable authority w/ conflict of interest

4. Inconsistency

-Contradiction within argument or within two ideas

5. Straw man

-Taking an argument, distorts it into a weaker argument

6. False dilemma

-Might have more than two alternatives (either-or fallacy)

-False alternatives

Question – Begging language

-Pseudo-questions (question-begging questions)

-Arguing in a circle (repeated assertion)

-Red Herring – “Throw people off the track/scent”

-Ultimate fallacy of diversion, it attempts to draw attention away from the argument at hand.

Questionable premise

-A catch-all category – A warning from the authors to be a bit skeptical about premises (chp 3 of L&CR)

Suppressed Evidence

-Passing other evidence contrary to your side of the argument

-Usually done in one of two ways (Don’t have to differentiate the two for exam purposes)

-Denying the counter evidence -Ignorant, don’t want to know

-Ignoring the counter evidence – know, but don’t want to hear it

Tokenism: Token evidence / token grounds, hopes that’s good enough to convince you