Finally! A Complete List Of Argument Fallacies…

Finally!

Finally!

Logical fallacies are as pernicious as rationalizations, and also as popular. Ethics Alarms been searching for a comprehensive list of the former that is as complete as this site’s constantly growing list of the latter-–I can’t compile both, and EUREKA! I found one, the excellent work of scientist and prolific blogger Don Lindsay. He goes far beyond the most commonly referenced fallacies, such as “No True Scotsman” and  “The Texas Sharpshooter,” “Equivocation,” “Straw Man Arguments, “Appeal to Authority,” and the one so many people get wrong, “Ad Hominem.”  Don has identified, complied and described 93 of them, each an obstacle to productive discourse and honest inquiries into ethics and other topics.

Wonderful.

They are…

    Ad Hominem (Argument To The Man)

    Affirming The Consequent

    Amazing Familiarity

    Ambiguous Assertion

    Appeal To Anonymous Authority

    Appeal To Authority

    Appeal To Coincidence

    Appeal To Complexity

    Appeal To False Authority

    Appeal To Force

    Appeal To Pity (Appeal to Sympathy, The Galileo Argument)

    Appeal To Widespread Belief (Bandwagon Argument, Peer Pressure, Appeal To Common Practice)

    Argument By Dismissal

    Argument By Emotive Language (Appeal To The People)

    Argument By Fast Talking

    Argument By Generalization

    Argument By Gibberish (Bafflement)

    Argument By Half Truth (Suppressed Evidence)

    Argument By Laziness (Argument By Uninformed Opinion)

    Argument By Personal Charm

    Argument By Pigheadedness (Doggedness)

    Argument By Poetic Language

    Argument By Prestigious Jargon

    Argument By Question

    Argument By Repetition (Argument Ad Nauseam)

    Argument by Rhetorical Question

    Argument By Scenario

    Argument By Selective Observation

    Argument By Selective Reading

    Argument By Slogan

    Argument By Vehemence

    Argument From Adverse Consequences (Appeal To Fear, Scare Tactics)

    Argument From Age (Wisdom of the Ancients)

    Argument From Authority

    Argument From False Authority

    Argument From Personal Astonishment

    Argument From Small Numbers

    Argument From Spurious Similarity

    Argument Of The Beard

    Argument To The Future

    Bad Analogy

    Begging The Question (Assuming The Answer, Tautology)

    Burden Of Proof

    Causal Reductionism (Complex Cause)

    Contrarian Argument

    Changing The Subject (Digression, Red Herring, Misdirection, False Emphasis)

    Cliche Thinking

    Common Sense

    Complex Question (Tying)

    Confusing Correlation And Causation

    Disproof By Fallacy

    Equivocation

    Error Of Fact

    Euphemism

    Exception That Proves The Rule

    Excluded Middle (False Dichotomy, Faulty Dilemma, Bifurcation)

    Extended Analogy

    Failure To State

    Fallacy Of Composition

    Fallacy Of Division

    Fallacy Of The General Rule

    Fallacy Of The Crucial Experiment

    False Cause

    False Compromise

    Genetic Fallacy (Fallacy of Origins, Fallacy of Virtue)

    Having Your Cake (Failure To Assert, or Diminished Claim)

    Hypothesis Contrary To Fact

    Inconsistency

    Inflation Of Conflict

    Internal Contradiction

    Least Plausible Hypothesis

    Lies

    Meaningless Questions

    Misunderstanding The Nature Of Statistics (Innumeracy)

    Moving The Goalposts (Raising The Bar, Argument By Demanding Impossible Perfection)

    Needling

    Non Sequitur

    Not Invented Here

    Outdated Information

    Pious Fraud

    Poisoning The Wells

    Psychogenetic Fallacy

    Reductio Ad Absurdum

    Reductive Fallacy (Oversimplification)

    Reifying

    Short Term Versus Long Term

    Slippery Slope Fallacy (Camel’s Nose)

    Special Pleading (Stacking The Deck)

    Statement Of Conversion

    Stolen Concept

    Straw Man (Fallacy Of Extension)

    Two Wrongs Make A Right (Tu Quoque, You Too)

    Weasel Wording

I will soon add Don’s list, with a link, to the Ethics Alarms resources.

8 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

8 responses to “Finally! A Complete List Of Argument Fallacies…

  1. I feel that Fallacy Files, which you also link to, does a better job categorizing and explaining the various fallacies.

    This new source seems to have more (though I’m not sure as Fallacy Files is pretty thorough). I am worried that the new source’s quantity may be inflated by treating essentially the same fallacies, under different names, as completely separate ones.

  2. “Argument from SWINEheadedness” you mean.

    (Just for fun Beth! Happy New Year).

  3. charlesgreen

    This looks rich, I look forward to investigating…

  4. Wayne

    Perhaps this post could be titled “93 Ways to lie, confuse and seduce and get away with it.” Lawyers, politicians, and CEOs take note!

  5. Changing The Subject (Digression, Red Herring, Misdirection, False Emphasis)

    I find changing the subject is often used in Facebook arguments about climate change.

    When pressed to back up their claims, I have observed, on more than one occasion, that those being challenged try to change the subject to clean air and water. Clean air and water has as much to do with climate change as a full-scale nuclear attack on Gaza.

  6. Another great resource is Arthur Schopenhauer’s “The Art of Controversy”, in which he lays out 38 common methods that debaters use to cheat their way to a “win”.

    Here’s a list from this website: http://www.mnei.nl/schopenhauer/38-stratagems.htm

    Which seems like as good a summary as I’ve seen of the list.

    1. Carry your opponent’s proposition beyond its natural limits; exaggerate it. The more general your opponent’s statement becomes, the more objections you can find against it. The more restricted and narrow his or her propositions remain, the easier they are to defend by him or her.

    2. Use different meanings of your opponent’s words to refute his or her argument.

    3. Ignore your opponent’s proposition, which was intended to refer to a particular thing. Rather, understand it in some quite different sense, and then refute it. Attack something different than that which was asserted.

    4. Hide your conclusion from your opponent till the end. Mingle your premises here and there in your talk. Get your opponent to agree to them in no definite order. By this circuitious route you conceal your game until you have obtained all the admissions that are necessary to reach your goal.

    5. Use your opponent’s beliefs against him. If the opponent refuses to accept your premises, use his own premises to your advantage.

    6. Another plan is to confuse the issue by changing your opponent’s words or what he or she seeks to prove.

    7. State your proposition and show the truth of it by asking the opponent many questions. By asking many wide-reaching questions at once, you may hide what you want to get admitted. Then you quickly propound the argument resulting from the opponent’s admissions.

    8. Make your opponent angry. An angry person is less capable of using judgement or perceiving where his or her advantage lies.

    9. Use your opponent’s answers to your questions to reach different or even opposite conclusions.

    10. If your opponent answers all your questions negatively and refuses to grant any points, ask him or her to concede the opposite of your premises. This may confuse the opponent as to which point you actually seek them to concede.

    11. If the opponent grants you the truth of some of your premises, refrain from asking him or her to agree to your conclusion. Later, introduce your conclusion as a settled and admitted fact. Your opponent may come to believe that your conclusion was admitted.

    12. If the argument turns upon general ideas with no particular names, you must use language or a metaphor that is favorable in your proposition.

    13. To make your opponent accept a proposition, you must give him or her an opposite, counter-proposition as well. If the contrast is glaring, the opponent will accept your proposition to avoid being paradoxical.

    14. Try to bluff your opponent. If he or she has answered several of your questions without the answers turning out in favor of your conclusion, advance your conclusion triumphantly, even if it does not follow. If your opponent is shy or stupid, and you yourself possess a great deal of impudence and a good voice, the trick may easily succeed.

    15. If you wish to advance a proposition that is difficult to prove, put it aside for the moment. Instead, submit for your opponent’s acceptance or rejection some true poposition, as thoug you wished to draw your proof from it. Should the opponent reject it because he or she suspects a trick, you can obtain your triumph by showing how absurd the opponent is to reject a true proposition. Should the opponent accept it, you now have reason on your own for the moment. You can either try to prove your original proposition or maintain that your original proposition is proved by what the opponent accepted. For this, an extreme degree of impudence is required.

    16. When your opponent puts forth a proposition, find it inconsistent with his or her other statements, beliefs, actions, or lack of action.

    17. If your opponent presses you with a counter proof, you will often be able to save yourself by advancing some subtle distinction. Try to find a second meaning or an ambiguous sense for your opponent’s idea.

    18. If your opponent has taken up a line of argument that will end in your defeat, you must not allow him or her to carry it to its conclusion. Interrupt the dispute, break it off altogether, or lead the opponent to a different subject.

    19. Should your opponent expressly challenge you to produce any objection to some definite point in his or her argument, and you have nothing much to say, try to make the argument less specific.

    20. If your opponent has admitted to all or most of your premises, do not ask him or her directly to accept your conclusion. Rather draw the conclusion yourself as if it too had been admitted.

    21. When your opponent uses an argument that is superficial, refute it by setting forth its superficial character. But it is better to meet the opponent with a counter argument that is just as superficial, and so dispose of him or her. For it is with victory that your are concerned, and not with truth.

    22. If your opponent asks you to admit something from which the point in dispute will immediately follow, you must refuse to do so, declaring that it begs the question.

    23. Contradiction and contention irritate a person into exaggerating his or her statements. By contractiong your opponent you may drive him or her into extending the statement beyond its natural limit. When you then contradict the exaggerated form of it, you look as though you had refuted the orginal statement your opponent tries to extend your own statement further than you intended, redefine your statement’s limits.

    24. This trick consists in stating a false syllogism. Your opponent makes a proposition and by false inference and distortion of his or her ideas you force from the proposition other propositions that are not intended and that appear absurd. It then appears the opponent’s proposition gave rise to these inconsistencies, and so appears to be indirectly refuted.

    25. If your opponent is making a generalization, find an instance to the contrary. Only one valid contradiciton is needed to overthrow the opponent’s proposition.

    26. A brilliant move is to turn the tables and use your opponent’s arguments against him or herself.

    27. Should your opponent surprise you by becoming particularly angry at an argument, you must urge it with all the more zeal. Not only will this make the opponent angry, it may be presumed that you put your finger on the weak side of his or her case, and that the opponent is more open to attack on this point than you expected.

    28. This trick is chiefly practicable in a dispute if there is an audience who is not an expert on the subject. You make an invalid objection to your opponent who seems to be defeated in the eyes of the audience. This strategy is particularly effective if your objection makes the opponent look ridiculous or if the audience laughs. If the opponent must make a long, complicated explanation to correct you, the audience will not be disposed to listen.

    29. If you find that you are being beaten, you can create a diversion that is, you can suddenly begin to talk of something else, as though it had bearing on the matter in dispose. This may be done without presumption if the diversion has some general bearing on the matter.

    30. Make an appeal to authority rather than reason. If your opponent respects an authority or an expert, quote that authority to further your case. If needed, quote what the authority said in some other sense or circumstance. Authorities that your opponent fails to understand are those which he or she generally admires the most. You may also, should it be necessary, not only twist your authorities, but actually falsify them, or quote something that you have invented entirely yourself.

    31. If you know that you have no reply to an argument that your opponent advances, you may, by a fine stroke of irony, declare yourself to be an incompetent judge.

    32. A quick way of getting rid of an opponent’s assertion, or throwing suspicion on it, is by putting it into some odious category.

    33. You admit your opponent’s premises but deny the conclusion.

    34. When you state a question or an argument, and your opponent gives you no direct answer, or evades it with a counter question, or tries to change the subject, it is a sure sign you have touched a weak spot, sometimes without knowing it. You have as it were, reduced the opponent to silence. You must, therefore, urge the point all the more, and not let your opponent evade it, even when you do not know where the weakness that you have hit upon really lies.

    35. This trick makes all unnecessary if it works. Instead of working on an opponent’s intellect, work on his or her motive. If you succeed in making your opponent’s opinion, should it prove true, seem distinctly to his or her own interest, the opponenent will drop it like a hot potato.

    36. You may also puzzle and bewilder your opponent by mere bombast. If the opponent is weak or does not wish to appear as ife he or she has no idea what you are talking about, you can easily impose upon him or her some argument that sounds very deep or learned, or that sounds indisputable.

    37. Should your opponent be in the right but, luckily for you, choose a faulty proof, you can easily refute it and then claim that you have refuted the whole position. This is the way which bad advocates lose a good case. If no accurate proof occurs to the opponent or the bystanders, you have won the day.

    38. A last trick is to become personal, insulting and rude as soon as you perceive that your opponent has the upper hand. In becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack on the person by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character. This is a very popular trick, because everyone is able to carry it into effect.

  7. At the moment I use 6 tests for acceptable argument (something I might say “yes, and” or “no, but” to
    1) respect:- does the argument waste my time, is it unusual to me, clear, brief, if evidence is required is it provided and qualified
    2) honesty – does the counter argument address the truth of any premise or the validity of the logic
    3) love – do I feel abused or cared for in the environment, will I get to show my love without penalty?
    4) injustice – is anyone being beaten up (harassed, bewildered, misled,misinformed,gulled or duped) by better or more numerous opponents they don’t volunteer for? do the last, least lowest and lost need a champion do they want one, should I offer? can I see the battle through?
    5) humility : is someone asking me to teach,am I qualified, am I capable?
    6) caution : am I likely to be bewildered, fuddled, misled – by my vanity, or their persuasive charm

    Formal fallacy arguments take the form : a is an example of X, for example
    A claim of democratic process is an argument to number, to emotion and to false authority. These I find unproductive as there is endless dispute as a result of using them in any exchange worth having (disputes). In reaching agreement in any dispute the emotional criteria outweigh the logical ones by a large multiple factor. I find. So I’ll agree with fallacious arguments if the 6 criteria are met, loosely speaking, on balance. Who knows, I might learn something by taking the other guy’s viewpoint.

    • For example : I would rather accept every policy position of PEOTUS Donald Trump including The Wall and excluding Muslims (which I believe to be very bad and at times based on outright lies, and many fallacies) if that was the only way to stay clear-hearted on not listening to him at all on all 6 criteria above going forward.

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