SUBJECTIVIST FALLACIES IN REASONING        While I was in Penang, I went to watch a movie entitled “Priest.” One of theunf...
“I think that all who don’t support this government are terrorists.”       “I believe our laws and values are right no mat...
cause the listeners to solely act on their negative emotions rather than on reasoning. Ethnicgenocides are an example of i...
Direct Coercion: “Public canning for uncovered faces or bodies”        All foregoing four fallacies are categorized under ...
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Subjectivist fallacies in reasoning

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When I was a young novice Christian, I was often reminded that faith is not to be reasoned but just to be believed. At that time, being young and an enthusiastic new convert, I accepted that reasoning without questioning. But now being an analytical realist and a matured adult, my questions is, why should I believe in a faith that is not to be reasoned? My experience from my younger days is a reminder that there are assumptions that certain things like ‘faith” cannot be reasoned but only to be believed. I consider this kind of reasoning as a form of fallacy. Understanding fallacies in reasoning would assist us in avoiding them in our thinking while identifying them whenever and wherever they occur around us. I would like to use the list of fallacies as pointed out by Kelly in his book entitled: “The Art of Reasoning.” This list is by no means exhaustive or final as many new forms of fallacies are arising in the dynamic environment of human thought and reasoning. This list was chosen because it covers most of the basic fallacies in reasoning.

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Subjectivist fallacies in reasoning

  1. 1. SUBJECTIVIST FALLACIES IN REASONING While I was in Penang, I went to watch a movie entitled “Priest.” One of theunforgettable script lines, which embedded itself in my mind, was the repetitive saying: “togo against the Church is to go against God.” This movie line is a subjectivist proposition. Isthis reasoning true? But it is this kind of reasoning that motivated me to write on this topic.Why Begin With Reasoning Fallacies? When I was a young novice Christian, I was often reminded that faith is not to bereasoned but just to be believed. At that time, being young and an enthusiastic newconvert, I accepted that reasoning without questioning. But now being an analytical realistand a matured adult, my questions is, why should I believe in a faith that is not to bereasoned? My experience from my younger days is a reminder that there are assumptionsthat certain things like ‘faith” cannot be reasoned but only to be believed. I consider thiskind of reasoning as a form of fallacy. Understanding fallacies in reasoning would assist us inavoiding them in our thinking while identifying them whenever and wherever they occuraround us. I would like to use the list of fallacies as pointed out by Kelly in his book entitled:“The Art of Reasoning.” This list is by no means exhaustive or final as many new forms offallacies are arising in the dynamic environment of human thought and reasoning. This listwas chosen because it covers most of the basic fallacies in reasoning.What Are Subjectivist Fallacies? For the purpose of clarity, I am going to format the coverage of subjectivist fallaciesin this manner. Firstly, I will give the label (name) of the fallacy. Secondly I will attempt todescribe the fallacy succinctly. Thirdly, I will explain why it is a fallacy. Fourthly, I will givefictitious examples of/for the fallacy.Label: SubjectivismDescription: I feel or think or believe that “A” is true and therefore it is trueExplanations of why it is a fallacy: Subjectivism is a fallacy because it is an assertion of one’sfeelings, thinkings or beliefs as evidence for the conclusion of his/her proposition. No otherevidence is given to support his/her conclusion.Fictitious Examples: “I believe that anyone who is not for me is against me.”
  2. 2. “I think that all who don’t support this government are terrorists.” “I believe our laws and values are right no matter where they are applied.” “I believe that going against the Church is going against God.” “I think I am what I am and therefore this is what I am.” “I was bred to believe that the majority is right.”Label: Appeal to MajorityDescription: Most, majority, many (persons, groups, nations, entities) believe “A” andtherefore “A” is true.Explanations of why it is a fallacy: Appeal to majority asserts the majorities’ feeling,thinking or belief as evidence for their conclusion of their proposition. No other evidence isgiven to support their conclusion. Flaws in this type of reasoning are due to: 1) that whichconstitutes a majority may not really be a majority; 2) Also, there is no conclusive evidencethat proves that a minority is always wrong; 3) A majority’s authority and relevancy may belimited by political and legal boundaries which cannot be generalized globally; 4) Otheravailable evidences not being considered in the evaluation of the conclusion of aproposition.Fictitious Examples: “We believe that our decisions are right because most of our members believe in ourdecisions.” “We believe that our products are reliable because many of our customers in thisprovince think that it is reliable.” “Many of our parents believe that Caucasians are better English teachers, which iswhy our university hires more Caucasians.” “Flogging a woman in public is our cultural belief so it is right.”Label: Appeal to EmotionDescription: If you do not accept proposition “A” then negative events “X”, “Y”, “P” willhappen and you and those you love will suffer.Explanations of why it is a fallacy: Appeal to emotion discards the avenue to reasoningwhile arousing and aggravating intrinsic negative emotions in persons. The motive is to
  3. 3. cause the listeners to solely act on their negative emotions rather than on reasoning. Ethnicgenocides are an example of individuals or groups that had utilized ethnic emotions forpolitical and communal power games. It has resulted in atrocities that even wild animalspale in comparison in brutalities as a result of unbridled and savage emotions fanned bydeliberate and calculative murderers.Fictitious Examples: “Politician “XXX” says, if our party is not elected to power, we will not be able toprotect you, from the great dangers of political and economic disasters of unimaginablehorror that is going to take place. Our businesses are going to fail with many of you losingyour jobs. You children will have to beg for food on the streets. Social unrest, violentdemonstrations and communal violence will be a daily event. None of you is going to be safeanymore.” “Remember your tortured and enslaved forefathers who didn’t heed our warnings.”Label: Appeal to ForceDescription:Force can be in the form of: Ridicule: You will look like a “MM” if you don’t use our cosmetics. Direct threat: Act this way or I will do this to you. Indirect threat: “XXX” may be lost if you do not act as required. Direct Coercion: Blocking all “ZZZ” websites and RRR newspapers.Explanations of why it is a fallacy: Appeal to force whether in the form of ridicule, threatsor coercion is the direct use of shame, pain, loss, suffering or death to bring aboutconformity. It is a fallacy because it involves the use force, which discredits any resultsclaimed by the enforcer. There is no involvement of any spontaneous reasoning that leadsto voluntary and spontaneous actions. Most authoritarian and dictatorial personalities andgovernments use this type of fallacy in the reasoning and actions.Fictitious Examples: Ridicule: “Only low class peasants belong to that club” Direct threat: “Shoot them if they demonstrate” Indirect threat: “No free WIFI for any constituents that does not belong to our party”
  4. 4. Direct Coercion: “Public canning for uncovered faces or bodies” All foregoing four fallacies are categorized under “Subjectivist fallacies.” We shouldlearn to identify subjectivist fallacies as they occur in real life. These fallacies may appear indecisions, speeches, writings, songs, movies, policies, laws, legislations or evenadvertisements. They represent defective reasoning that often results in non-objectivedecisions and actions. They promote distorted thinking that leads to prejudicial anddiscriminative perceptions and behaviour. They are not only counterproductive but also canbe detrimental to holistic living.

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