Much of the material contained here comes from
the text “Social Problems and the Quality of
Life, 12th ed.,” by Lauer and Lauer
Appeal to Prejudice
Fallacy of Authority
Fallacy of Composition
Fallacy of Non Sequitur
Using one or two cases to support and entire
The tendency to overgeneralize.
Argument is based partly on fact.
Exceptions do exist to generalized statements.
The need for systematic studies to see if specific
instances can be generalized.
Blaming the victim as in the case of poverty or
Taking such stereotypes and generalizing
based upon one or two instances.
The argument that people on welfare are
“ripping off” the rest of us.
Arguing that one event was caused by another
event merely because it occurred after that
Every severe recession follows a Republican
Presidency; therefore Republicans are the cause
of recessions." Accidental generalizations need
not always be causal relations.
Mere succession in time is not enough to
establish causal connection. E.g., consider
"Since hair always precedes the growth of teeth
in babies, the growth of hair causes the growth
Slippery slope is when you take one known
fact and extrapolate it to an unrealistic extreme.
It avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and
instead shifts attention to extreme
hypotheticals. Because no proof is presented to
show that such extreme hypotheticals will in
Straw man is when you set up the opposing
side to look unreasonable by misrepresenting
what they actually stand for.
Animal rights activists believe that we
shouldn't keep animals captive and make them
do our will. They would have you abandon
your pets in the wilderness.
Colin Closet asserts that if we allow same-sex
couples to marry, then the next thing we know
we'll be allowing people to marry their parents,
their cars and even monkeys.
Things could not have worked out any other
What happened historically had to happen that
If you view the past in terms of determinism
you have little reason to study it.
It is an acceptance of the inevitable.
It can relieve you of responsibility and can
legitimize a lack of concern.
“Go back through history, it’s traditional,
there’s no special reason, no cause for it.”
“We can’t get away from it.”
“It has just always been this way.”
An argument made by attacking the opponent
personally rather than dealing with the issue.
Regarding attitudes towards poverty, many
blame the poor for their plight. People who are
not poor are relieved of responsibility.
Government efforts to alleviate poverty are
blamed for perpetuating it.
Using conclusions to support the assumptions
that were necessary to make the conclusions.
An argument is made that certain minorities
are inherently inferior (to the majority) and that
their inferiority is evident because they hold
only menial jobs. One may reply that this is
because of discrimination in hiring. Then the
retort is that they could not be hired for
superior jobs anyway because they are simply
The illegitimate appeal to authority.
An argument by an illegitimate authority.
The authority may be an expert in a field that
has nothing to do with the issue.
The authority may be a celebrity, but not a
A television or movie star making claims about
the value of a product. He/she may not have
any knowledge of the product in question.
A first rate physicist is not necessarily an expert
on race relations. His/her expertise is
Also the authority may be pursuing a bias.
Example is a corporate head arguing against
government regulation of such a corporation.
The assertion that what is true of the part is
true of the whole.
Assuming that what is true for the individual is
true for the group.
Seeing one or two homeless people who appear
unwilling to work may cause you to assume
this is true for all or most of the homeless. This
is not necessarily true.
Something that does not follow logically from
what has preceded it.
Commonly found when people attempt to
interpret statistical data.
Our product is so good, it was even given
away in celebrity gift bags. (Maybe true but not
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