Logical Fallacies (Flawed Logic) and Appeals
logical fallacies (flawed logic) – faulty logic; includes sweeping generalization, argument to the person (ad hominem), non sequitur, either/or fallacy, begging the question, and bandwagon argument.
sweeping generalization – hasty generalization resulting in conclusion that is not necessarily accurate; inductive reasoning (going from a particular point to a universal rule) which is not thought through carefully. There is one rotting apple in the bag; therefore, all the apples in the bag are rotting.
argument to the person (ad hominem) – a statement raising questions about a person’s honesty or integrity who is taking a stand on an issue instead of making an argument on the issue itself. The candidate opposing the widening of the road is being investigated for tax evasion instead of arguing that the widening of the road is needed to alleviate traffic on another road.
non sequitur – an line of argument that really does follow logically. The road should not be widenedbecause the city park is nearby. What does the park have to do with widening of the road? This often happens when the argument is just not clearly expressed. The road should not be widened because it will increase traffic on a street that many children cross to go to the city park.
either/or fallacy – where only two choices are presented instead of giving all the options. The county commissions asked residents if they preferred a slight increase in taxes or charging a parking fee for on all county parks.
begging the question – using the argument that something is true or accurate because it is true or accurate.
bandwagon argument – Everyone else is doing it; therefore, you should
appeals – use of language to sway the reader by appealing to emotions, logic, or ethics.
emotional appeals – presenting information designed to result in emotion. Commercials typically have emotional appeals to make the audience feel in a certain way. Perfume commercials showing couples; diaper commercials showing happy babies. There are many speeches that used emotional appeals to show the audience the validity of the point being made.
logical appeals – presenting information designed to result in the audience thinking that what is being promoted is logical. Examples include a commercial to refinance focuses on how money can be saved or an evaluation as to the beneficial effects of a specific course of action such as more community participation or a source of revenue for a business.
ethical appeals – presenting information designed to result in the audience thinking that what is being promoted is the right thing such as contributing to organizations that help victims of natural disasters.
unfair appeals – the unfair use of emotional, logical, or ethical appeals. Some consider using abused pets or children unfair emotional appeals.