A statement is RELEVANT to another statement if it provides at least some reason for thinking that the second statement is true or false.
There are three ways in which a statement can be relevant or irrelevant to another:
A statement is positively relevant to another statement if it provides at least some reason for thinking that the second statement is true .
A statement is negatively relevant to another statement if it provides at least some reason for thinking that the second statement is false .
A statement is logically irrelevant to another statement if it provides no reason for thinking that the second statement is either true or false.
4.1 Fallacies of Relevance Two Wrongs Make a Right Equivocation Scare Tactics Red Herring Begging the Question Straw Man Look Who’s Talking Bandwagon Argument Attacking the Motive Appeal to Pity Personal Attack
Donald Trump has argued that we need to build a new campus. But Trump is the owner of Trump’s Construction Company. He’ll make a fortune if his company is picked to build the new campus. Obviously, Trump’s argument is a lot of self-serving nonsense.
Attacking the Motive When an arguer criticizes a person’s motivation for offering a particular argument or claim, rather than examining the worth of the argument or claim itself.
X has biased or has questionable motives.
Therefore, X’s arguments or claim should be rejected .
Student to Lecturer: I know I missed half your classes and failed all my quizzes and assignments. First my cat died. Then my girlfriend told me she has found someone else. With all I went through this semester, I don’t think I really deserve an F. Any chance you might cut me some slack and change my grade to a C or a D?
Appeal to Pity When an arguer attempts to evoke feelings of pity or compassion, where such feelings, however understandable, are not relevant to the truth of the arguer’s conclusion.
"I think there is great merit in making the requirements stricter for the graduate students. I recommend that you support it, too. After all, we are in a budget crisis and we do not want our salaries affected."
Red Herring When an arguer tries to sidetrack his audience by raising an irrelevant issue, and then claims that the original issue has been effectively settled by the irrelevant diversion.
1. Topic A is under discussion.
2. Topic B is introduced under the guise of being relevant to topic A (when topic B is actually not relevant to topic A). 3. Topic A is abandoned.
I'm trying hard to understand this guy who identifies himself as a security supervisor and criticizes the police officers in this area. I can only come up with two solutions. One, he is either a member of the criminal element, or two, he is a frustrated security guard who can never make it as a police officer and figures he can take cheap shots at cops through the newspaper (adapted from a newspaper call-in column).
The Red Cross is worried about the treatment of the suspected terrorists held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. What do they want the U.S. to do with them, put them on the beaches of Florida for a vacation or take them skiing in the Rockies? Come on, let's worry about the Americans. (adapted from a newspaper call-in column)
4.1 Mini Quiz – Question 2
Fallacies of Insufficient Evidence “ The foolish and the dead alone never change their opinion.” - James Russell Lowell
The choice in this MPM election is clear: Either we elect Zubaidah as our next president, or we watch our MPM unity slide into anarchy and frustration. Clearly, we don’t want that to happen. Therefore, we should elect Zubaidah as our next president.
False Alternatives Posing a false either/or choice.
Fallacy of false alternatives can involve more than
two (2) alternatives . It can also be expressed as a
Sarah gets a chain letter that threatens her with dire consequences if she breaks the chain. She laughs at it and throws it in the garbage. On her way to work she slips and breaks his arm. When she gets back from the hospital she sends out 200 copies of the chain letter, hoping to avoid further accidents.
Questionable Cause Claiming, without sufficient evidence, that one thing is the cause of something else.
Note found in a Forest Service Suggestion box: Park visitors need to know how important it is to keep this wilderness area completely pristine and undisturbed. So why not put up a few signs to remind people of this fact?
Inconsistency Asserting inconsistent or contradictory claims.
It is also a mistake to cling stubbornly to an old idea when new
According to North Korea's official state-run news agency, "a war between North Korea and the United States will end with the delightful victory of North Korea, a newly emerging military power, in 100 hours. . . . The U. S. [will] be enveloped in flames. . . and the arrogant empire of the devil will breathe its last". Given that this prediction comes from the official North Korean news agency, it is probably true.
(Passage quoted in Nicholas D. Kristof, "Empire of the Devil," New York Times , April 4, 2003)
Jurors in tobacco lawsuits should award judgments so large that they put tobacco companies out of business. Respecting the right of tobacco companies to stay in business is akin to saying there are "two sides" to slavery...
(Anti-tobacco lawyer, quoted in George F. Will, "Court Ruling Expresses Anti-Smoking Hypocrisy," Wilkes-Barre Times Leader , May 25, 2003)
Break into groups of 4 - 6, and construct five (5) fallacious arguments.
Each group can choose any of the 20 fallacies discussed, but must construct at least two fallacious arguments of each category : Fallacies of Relevance & Fallacies of Insufficient Evidence ).
The constructed fallacious arguments must discuss the topics specified in the template provided (Business, Education, Information Technology, Environment, and Tourism).
Group presentation & discussion. 15 min The Group leader must submit their findings in hard-copy or soft-copy format to the lecturer before or during the next class. Document constructed arguments into the template provided. 5 min Construct 5 fallacious arguments. 20 min
Summary – 20 Common Fallacies Fallacies of Insufficient Evidence Arguments in which the premises, though logically relevant to the conclusion, fail to provide sufficient evidence for the conclusion. Fallacies of Relevance Arguments in which the premises are logically irrelevant to the conclusion.
Inappropriate Appeal to Authority
Appeal to Ignorance
Attacking the Motive
Look Who’s Talking
Two Wrongs Make a Right
Appeal to Pity
Begging the Question
Fallacy An argument that contains a mistake in reasoning .