Logic: Fallacies

Essay by ub_decathleteUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, March 2006

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Fallacies of relevance share the common bond that the arguments contain premises that are not logically relevant to the conclusion, but appear to be psychologically. Some fallacies attempt to evoke emotion, such as pity, fear or membership, and then attach a conclusion to those emotions. Some fallacies attempt to discredit the opposing argument buy attacking its author, while others attempt to appeal to certain dispositions of the reader, such as superstitions or mental laziness to coerce the listener into accepting a conclusion. Some examples of fallacies of relevance are; appeal to force, appeal to pity, appeal to the people, argument against the person, and accident. We will discuss the different types of fallacies of relevance and give examples of each, and show how to identify and avoid these fallacies.

Appeal to force is committed when the arguer poses a conclusion to the listener and somehow attaches the implication of harm if he or she does not accept the conclusion as just.

The fallacy always contains some sort of threat, to either a single person or a group of people, but is always logically irrelevant. An example of this is often used by children when arguing, "Child to playmate: "Teletubbies" 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" (Hurley). Here, the arguer attempts to persuade the listener into agreement by threatening him or her with force.

Another fallacy of relevance is appeal to pity. This fallacy occurs when an arguer attempts to support a conclusion by evoking pity from the listener. The pity may be directed towards the listener or some third party. Here is an example of appeal to pity:

Taxpayer to judge: Your Honor, I admit that I declared...