Chapter 7 Notes Johnson

What about Faults and Gaps in Arguments

Fallacies in Arguments

  • Arguments typically break down in one of three main ways: through faulty uses of
    1. Reasoning or logic (activated by evidence)
    2. Credibility (built with verification, reputation, or presentation)]
    3. Emotion (evoked by illustrations)
  • "Errors" in thinking can be categorized a various kinds of fallacies.
  • Arguments break down when readers discover weak linkages between a thesis or claim and its support.
  • Scholars use arguments to expand the bounds of human understanding

Weak Evidence

  • Arguments commonly fail when the audience does not consider the evidence presented to be sufficient or relevant
  • Fallacies do not build the best possible case for reaching a conclusion.
  • One of the most common Fallacies that involve "sufficiency" is the overgeneralization,sometimes called a "hasty generalization"
  • You can avoid sufficiency fallacies, in your arguments and in your own thinking, by qualifying your claims.
  • A qualification is a stated restriction that limits a claims strength
  • Another main category of reasoning errors involves relevance
  • A common kind of relevance fallacy confuses correlation with causation
  • A second type of relevance fallacy intentionally introduces information that's only weakly related to the conclusion.
  • Philosophers who study informal logic or reasoning sometimes call the "chaining-the-subject" technique of kind of "red herring" fallacy.
  • A third kind of relevance fallacy occurs when writers create "straw man arguments" oversimplified, exaggerated, or simply inaccurate versions of opposing arguments to make alternative perspectives seem weak, foolish, and easily refutable, like a scarecrow that we could easily knock over.


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