Fallacy Summary and Application

Essay by ShastaUniversity, Bachelor's July 2004

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Critical thinking is essential skill for good decision-making and problem solving. As in most decision-making and problem solving situations, arguments are important in proving your ideas or claims to be reasonable, but sometimes those arguments can be fallacious. "A logical fallacy--or fallacy, for short--is an argument that contains a mistake in reasoning." (Bassham, Irwin, Nardone, and Wallace, 2002) Fallacies are common in everyday life and knowing how to identify them prevents us from falling victim to their deceit. To do so would cause our thinking to be unreasonable and inhibit good decision-making or problem solving skills. "The first step towards developing critical thinking is to learn and apply the rules of logic, in particular, to uncover the logical fallacies." (Linda B. Nilson, 1997) The logical fallacies defined in this paper fall into two categories: fallacies of relevance and fallacies of insufficient evidence. "Fallacies of relevance are fallacies that occur because the premises are logically irrelevant to the conclusion."

(Bassham, Irwin, Nardone, and Wallace, 2002) This means that a fallacy of relevance happens when the ideas are logically irrelevant to a conclusion even though they appear to be good ideas. "Fallacies of insufficient evidence are fallacies that occur because the premises, though logically relevant to the conclusion, fail to provide sufficient evidence to support the conclusion." (Bassham, Irwin, Nardone, and Wallace, 2002) This means that fallacies of insufficient evidence are ideas that do not have enough evidence to support the conclusion, even though the evidence they do have is significant to the conclusion. The purpose of this paper is to define three logical fallacies, provide an example of each, and show how fallacies are important to critical thinking.

The Personal Attack Fallacy falls into the category of Fallacies of Relevance. Personal Attack Fallacies are the denial of someone's ideas or arguments...