Chapter 16

Ten Logical Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

In This Chapter

arrow Picking up tips for real-life debates

arrow Looking at how newspapers and politicians spin arguments

Arguments are all about providing reasons to support a position. Reasons are often, in practice, limited to producing so-called authorities who're claimed to hold the same view (perhaps important people, important books or of course God). Or perhaps they're claimed as links to future events, for good or bad: for example, countries should put a hefty tax on lightbulbs and petrol or else the seas will rise and drown coastal cities.

Such arguments are very weak, but not necessarily invalid. Why do I say they're weak? Because in the first case they require others to accept your judgement of who's an authority, and in the second case they ‘beg the question’ of exactly what is the causal link. (Remember, in logic, premises are assumed to be true, however implausible. The thing that makes an argument invalid is an internal contradiction.)

Here, however, I provide ten common argumentative tactics that I strongly suggest you avoid!

Claiming to Follow Logically: Non Sequiturs and Genetic Fallacies

Non sequiturs and genetic fallacies involve statements that are offered in a way that suggests they follow logically one from the ...

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