Fallacy Summary and Application

Essay by krrfUniversity, Bachelor's October 2004

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The word fallacy can be defined as deceptive appearance, a false or mistaken idea, or often plausible argument using false or invalid inference (Fallacy definition, 2004). Although all the definitions are apt, it is the latter that applies to critical thinking. Fallacies involved in critical thinking come in many forms. Ad hominem, slippery slope, fallacy of division and equivocation are just some of the fallacies that can be found in critical thinking (Bassham, Irwin, Nardone Wallace, 2002). This paper will show a few examples of fallacious argument and their effects on decision-making.

One fallacy that can be easily found is the fallacy of appeal to emotion. Most often used in political arenas, the appeal to emotion calls upon the listener to believe claims by the speaker based upon their emotions toward him or her. Often, the appeal to emotion fallacy will be used to "to move people to take an action, such as buying a product or fighting in a war" (La Bossiere, 2004).

Many examples of the usage of this fallacy can be found right now in the speeches of the candidates running for office. Most notably, the candidates for higher office are guilty of this offense. After a recent speech, President Bush declared that John Kerry "has taken so many different positions on Iraq that his statements are hardly credible at all" (Bush, Kerry, 2004). Obviously the President is trying to urge the listeners that his take on the issue is the correct one. John Kerry is also using the same approach, a recent quote from Kerry stated "he (Bush) does not have the credibility to lead the world" and "(Bush) barely talked about the realities at all of Iraq" (Bush, Kerry, 2004).

The usage of appeal to emotion can be a hindrance in the decision-making process...