Logical Fallacies

Essay by jstaiUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, June 2006

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Fallacies are encountered frequently in every day arguments. "An argument is fallacious when it contains one or more logical fallacies. A logical fallacy - or fallacy, for short - is an argument that contains a mistake in reasoning" (Critical Thinking, 2000).

The following text will examine three logical fallacies: appeal to emotion, post hoc ergo propter hoc (PHEPH), and ad hominem. I will also discuss each fallacy's application to decision making and significance to critical thinking. A good critical thinker will investigate the evidence presented in an argument before coming to a conclusion. Fallacies are frequently committed when research has not been completed and biased opinions emotions have taken over.

Appeal to emotion, formerly called appeal to pity, is a fallacy where the arguer tries to petition the emotion of the listener rather than persuade them using logic. People tend to react when their emotions become stimulated and the arguer can easily gain support.

One example of an appeal to emotion came from a 1972 advertisement for the Foulke Fur Co. There were protests being made against the fur company because of the killing of Alaskan seals. The advertisement stated that the clubbing of the seals was a mode of conservation, exercising wildlife management, because "biologists believe a healthier colony is a controlled colony" (UOP, "Master List"). By oversimplifying the argument, Foulke Fur Co. tried to make people believe that science supported their business. Clubbing the seals, however, was not the most humane way to manage the colonies of seals.

The appeal to emotion fallacy has proven to be effective in marketing. A 2006 article by Wayne E. Pollard reports that marketing without persuasion does not result in sales. "Recent studies suggest that emotions are essential to decision-making. Trust is a factor in buying decisions, especially when the...