Logical Fallacies LF

29/12/19

We’ve talked a few times over the past year about various logical fallacies, but what are they and why are they important? Fallacies are essentially errors in an argument. All arguments are essentially a conclusion that arises from a series of premises. Something like: all men are mortal; Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal. The two premises are correct, the logic is valid so the conclusion must be true - the argument is 'Sound'.

If the argument was: all men are mortal, Socrates is a Greek, therefore Socrates is mortal,then this would be a 'Formal fallacy'. The conclusion does not necessarily follow from the premises. (Notice that it can still be correct but still fallacious). If it was: all dogs are mortal, Socrates is a dog, therefore Socrates is mortal, it would be an 'Informal fallacy'; one of the premises is incorrect - Socrates is not a dog - but the logic would be valid had the premise been true.

We all intuitively have a grasp of why some arguments are or are not sound but logical fallacies are what breaks arguments. We all fall into the trap of using them, sometimes from ignorance, sometimes to deliberately lie or obscure. Remember though that just because an argument is fallacious it does not mean the conclusion must be wrong, only that it does not follow. Familiaring yourself with the various fallacies will help you spot those bad arguments and help you understand why your own arguments need to be better structured.

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