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15 Logical Fallacies You Should Know Before Getting Into a Debate - TheBestSchools.org

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15Logical Fallacies You Should Know Before Getting Into a Debate

Need help prepping for an argument, or just want to double check your philosophy homework? Here you'll find 15 of the most common logical fallacies.

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What Is A Logical Fallacy

Logical fallacies are flawed, deceptive, or false arguments that can be proven wrong with reasoning. These are the most common fallacies you should know about.

Arguments and debates are an important part of college and academic discourse. But not every argument is perfect. Some can be picke...

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Two Main Types Of Logical Fallacies

Logical fallacies are flawed, deceptive, or false arguments that can be proven wrong with reasoning. There are two main types of fallacies:

-A formal fallacy is an argument with a premise and conclusion that doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

-An informal fallacy is an error in the form, co...

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Types Of Logical Fallacy

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Ad Hominem
  2. Strawman Argument
  3. Appeal to Ignorance
  4. False Dilemma
  5. Slippery Slope Fallacy
  6. Circular Argument
  7. Hasty Generalization
  8. Red Herring Fallacy
  9. Appeal to Hypocrisy
  10. Causal Fallacy
  11. Fallacy ...

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Ad Hominem

An ad hominem fallacy uses personal attacks rather than logic. This fallacy occurs when someone rejects or criticizes another point of view based on the personal characteristics, ethnic background, physical appearance, or other non-relevant traits of the person who holds it.

Ad hominem argu...

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Straw Man

A straw man argument attacks a different subject rather than the topic being discussed — often a more extreme version of the counter argument. The purpose of this misdirection is to make one's position look stronger than it actually is.

The straw man argument is appropriately named after a ...

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Appeal to Ignorance

An appeal to ignorance (also known as an "argument from ignorance") argues that a proposition must be true because it has not been proven false or there is no evidence against it.

The argument can be used to bolster multiple contradictory conclusions at once, such as the following two claim...

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False Dilemma/False Dichotomy

A false dilemma or false dichotomy presents limited options — typically by focusing on two extremes — when in fact more possibilities exist. The phrase "America: Love it or leave it" is an example of a false dilemma.

The false dilemma fallacy is a manipulative tool designed to polarize the ...

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Slippery Slope

A slippery slope argument assumes that a certain course of action will necessarily lead to a chain of future events. The slippery slope fallacy takes a benign premise or starting point and suggests that it will lead to unlikely or ridiculous outcomes with no supporting evidence.

You may hav...

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Circular Argument

Circular arguments occur when a person's argument repeats what they already assumed before without arriving at a new conclusion. For example, if someone says, "According to my brain, my brain is reliable," that's a circular argument.

Circular arguments often use a claim as both a premise an...

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Hasty Generalization

A hasty generalization is a claim based on a few examples rather than substantial proof. Arguments based on hasty generalizations often don't hold up due to a lack of supporting evidence: The claim might be true in one case, but that doesn't mean it's always true.

Hasty generalizations are ...

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Red Herring

A red herring is an argument that uses confusion or distraction to shift attention away from a topic and toward a false conclusion. Red herrings usually contain an unimportant fact, idea, or event that has little relevance to the real issue.

Red herrings are a common diversionary tactic whe...

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Appeal to Hypocrisy

An appeal to hypocrisy — also known as the tu quoque fallacy — focuses on the hypocrisy of an opponent. The tu quoque fallacy deflects criticism away from oneself by accusing the other person of the same problem or something comparable.

The tu quoque fallacy is an attempt to divert blame. T...

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Causal Fallacy

Causal fallacies are informal fallacies that occur when an argument incorrectly concludes that a cause is related to an effect. Think of the causal fallacy as a parent category for other fallacies about unproven causes.

One example is the false cause fallacy, which is when you draw a conclu...

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Sunk Cost

A sunk cost fallacy is when someone continues doing something because of the effort they already put in it, regardless of whether the additional costs outweigh the potential benefits. "Sunk cost" is an economic term for any past expenses that can no longer be recovered.

For example: Imagine...

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Appeal to Authority

Appeal to authority is the misuse of an authority's opinion to support an argument. While an authority's opinion can represent evidence and data, it becomes a fallacy if their expertise or authority is overstated, illegitimate, or irrelevant to the topic.

For example, citing a foot doctor w...

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Equivocation

Equivocation happens when a word, phrase, or sentence is used deliberately to confuse, deceive, or mislead. In other words, saying one thing but meaning another.

When it's poetic or comical, we call this a "play on words." But when it's done in a political speech, an ethics debate, or an ec...

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Appeal to Pity

An appeal to pity relies on provoking your emotions to win an argument rather than factual evidence. Appealing to pity attempts to pull on an audience's heartstrings, distract them, and support their point of view.

Someone accused of a crime using a cane or walker to appear more feeble in f...

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Bandwagon Fallacy

The bandwagon fallacy assumes something is true (or right or good) because others agree with it. In other words, the fallacy argues that if everyone thinks a certain way, then you should, too.

One problem with this kind of reasoning is that the broad acceptance of a claim or action doesn't ...

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Final Word

I hope this primer on logical fallacies helps you to navigate future disputes with friends, family, and online acquaintances without descending into vitriol or childish name-calling.

Knowing your logical fallacies can also help when you're working on your next research paper. You may want t...

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