on logical fallacies

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on logical fallacies

Postby TerraFrost » Wed Aug 24, 2005 6:12 pm

I was gonna post this on another forum, but am now sorta unable to do so since the thread is locked. So, since I liked what I said, I'll post it here:

I've read your post five times now. It clearly states that I'm posting flamebait, but when I asked how it was flamebait you didn't answer me. Instead you're pretending as if my intire post was one link and included no discussion.

The fact that your post included more than the claim that something was a Straw Man is irrelevent given that someone's comment was only intended to address this part of your reply:

someone else wrote:...so pretty much, what your saying is... If a country is poor they can do anything they want, run planes into building, have communist rule, anything, am i right? though so

Strawman


How does pointing out that someone's argument is a logical fallacy encourage personal attacks? Why is it ok for moderators to point out logical fallacies in the same way?

If something is a logical fallacy, the counter-argument to it should be obvious. As an example, consider the above point I made. The fact that that which I described has a name - ad hominem - is irrelevant. Throwing fancy names around doesn't constitute an argument or a point, yet that's kinda what you did.

What are your thoughts on logical fallacies? Or atleast on people who are trigger happy to lable things as such.
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Postby Gigafrost » Wed Aug 24, 2005 8:10 pm

I'd say people who are quick to label an argument as a logical fallacy are themselves committing a logical fallacy.

To explain, when I say "quick" I mean they declare something to be a logical fallacy without explaining why. Perhaps they really had a good reason why, but the argument they're presenting is proving the conclusion by assuming it as a premiss. I believe this would be, by definition, circular reasoning (which is a logical fallacy.)

I suppose that makes people who are quick to label logical fallacies to discredit opposing views hypocrits.
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Postby Exalted Ugu » Thu Aug 25, 2005 12:42 am

I find that people often throw around the names of logical fallacies in an effort to sound more knowledeable or more authoritative than they really are, certainly some explanation is neccessary.

Still, when someone posts something that is obviously a straw man, or obviously an irrlevant ad homeniem attack, it's handy to have a name for it.

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Postby TerraFrost » Sat Sep 24, 2005 10:49 pm

Thinking about it, perhaps the proper way to fight logical fallacies is with logical fallacies?

An Ad Hominem occurs when someone's points are dismissed because they're untrustworthy.

An Appeal to Authority occurs under the exact opposite conditions - when someone's points are accepted only because they're trustworthy.

So pretty much, if someone builds an argument that relies on Ad Hominems, would making Appeals to Authority be a proper way to tear their argument down? I mean, the two sorta negate each other out, after all.

Of course, then again, whether or not that's how it ought to work doesn't mean that that's actually how it does. What the above is most likely to do is to just cause a flame war.

Anyway, that said, so-called slippery slopes are fallacies which bug me. Is it bad form to argue that a given event can act as precident for another event? To extend that, is it bad form to argue that a given sequence of events can act as bad precident for another sequence of events? If not, then how is that different from a slippery slope?

And anyway, I think I object to the very term logical fallacy. Formal logic is used to construct arguments that also double as formal proofs. It consists of operations like modus tallens, modus ponens, etc, and can be used to definitively establish something as being true or false.

The so-called "logic" people use in debates, however, is quite different. By necessity. For one, it's really quite impossible to establish any statement (ie. abortion is bad) as being wholey true or wholey false. This may have something to do with the assertions that are used, and if so, then perhaps that's what makes "debate logic" different than "formal logic" - the fact that the truth status of the assertions, themselves, is indeterminant.

And of course, analogies and metaphores (see this thread) don't really translate to formal logic very well, either.
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Postby Exalted Ugu » Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:50 am

However, the 'Logical Fallacies' are better understood in this context as failures of reason, or as deliberate attempts to mislead or misdirect the argument. Certainly no-one is constructing syllogisms, but that doesn't make Ad Hominem any less invalid a debating tactic. Likewise, an Appeal to Dubious Authority should always be recognized, Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc reasoning should always be challenged, and fallacious slippery slopes should either be leveled out or better greased.

All the commonly cited Logical Fallacies ARE invalid forms even in informal argument, and it is always a good sign that someone's argument has problems when they commit them. However, what i have a problem with is people who think that just naming a fallacy somehow proves that the other person has committed it. This isn't much of a problem with general argument, but when someone accuses you of a straw man, or of red herring, it can be a fair bit more irritating.

Slippery slope arguments are particularly troubling, since they're not always wrong, it merely requires far more evidence to support them than most people bother to put into a post online. If i make the claim that increased hand-gun control is inevitably going to lead to restrictions on long-guns, and then to fascism, I should be prepared to support that claim with both accurate historical analogy and relevant current facts. Nobody does, so most slippery slopes tend to be fallacious.

As to your last point, it is true that no-one is likely to establish to everyone's satisfaction that "abortion is wrong", but that has nothing at all to do with logical fallacies. That is an assertion, and the assertions and assumptions you base your argument on are an entirely different realm than the criticism of the argument itself that logical fallacies entail. What fallacies address is not incorrect assumptions, but incorrect reasoning between them. If i say, Abortion is bad, therefore your a jerk. That's ad hominem, weather abortion is wrong or not.
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Postby TerraFrost » Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:34 am

I don't think this is a fallacy, persay, but it is something that I've seen happening on an increasing basis.

Basically, you bolster a point someone made while attempting to avoid criticism by sorta posing as someone from the opposing camp. Here's an example:

Evolution is stupid. <insert some random sentances attempting to elaborate on this position>

Basically, you're right. Doesn't mean I have to stop believing in evolution!

It's almost like a false testimonial. I - someone who takes position B - knows, deep down inside, that position A, is right.

Of course, this is kinda a cooked up example. Perhaps a more realistic one is as follows:

Piracy is cardinal sin. Blah blah blah

Basically, he's right. I'm still quite pleased, though, that Sony's attempt to stop it backfired!
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Postby Exalted Ugu » Thu Dec 01, 2005 8:10 am

I think that's almost a variant on a propaganda technique first elaborated (so far as i know) by Geobbels, (spelling? not that i care mutch) which was essentially.

"In any arguement, and whatever the outcome of that arguement, if i can get you to accept and argue from my premises, i've already won,"

It's similar to complex question, except psychological rather than logical, if you can get someone to discuss an issue from your point of view, it doesn't really matter what their ultimate conclusion is, they're still accepting the premises you want them to, and you can influence them that way. It's not a logical fallacy, however, what you're describing, it's just sloppy thinking.

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Postby TerraFrost » Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:30 am

I think that's almost a variant on a propaganda technique first elaborated (so far as i know) by Geobbels, (spelling? not that i care mutch) which was essentially.

"In any arguement, and whatever the outcome of that arguement, if i can get you to accept and argue from my premises, i've already won,"

Could you maybe give a more direct example? It sounds like something that'd be interesting to look for, but I'm not really sure I get it based on what you've said thus far :(

Google searches for Geobbels just reveal that he was some nazi propagandist.
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Postby Gigafrost » Fri Dec 02, 2005 1:45 pm

TerraFrost wrote:
I think that's almost a variant on a propaganda technique first elaborated (so far as i know) by Geobbels, (spelling? not that i care mutch) which was essentially.

"In any arguement, and whatever the outcome of that arguement, if i can get you to accept and argue from my premises, i've already won,"

Could you maybe give a more direct example? It sounds like something that'd be interesting to look for, but I'm not really sure I get it based on what you've said thus far :(

Google searches for Geobbels just reveal that he was some nazi propagandist.
Hmmm, almost like Ugu used Godwin's law? Hehehe...
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Postby Exalted Ugu » Sat Dec 10, 2005 6:15 am

Terra, i'd look up Jaques Ellul's book "Propaganda" for more, that was where i came across it, and since i've long since 'loaned' my copy to someone i can't remember, i don't know what the primary source was.

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Postby TerraFrost » Sat Dec 10, 2005 8:34 am

Based on the reviews I've just read of it, it looks quite interesting. Thanks for the citation / recommendation / thing! :)
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