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Argument from Fallacy

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argumentum ad logicam

(also known as: disproof by fallacy, argument to logic, fallacy fallacy, or fallacist's fallacy, bad reasons fallacy [form of], psychogenetic fallacy [form of])

Description: Concluding that the truth value of an argument is false based on the fact that the argument contains a fallacy.

Logical Form:

Argument X is fallacious.

Therefore, the conclusion or truth claim of argument X is false.

Example #1:

Ivan: You cannot borrow my car because it turns back into a pumpkin at midnight.

Sidney: If you really think that, you’re an idiot.

Ivan: That is an ad hominem; therefore, I can’t be an idiot.

Sidney: I beg to differ.

Explanation: While it is true that Sidney has committed the ad hominem fallacy by calling Ivan an idiot rather than providing reasons why Ivan’s car won’t turn into a pumpkin at midnight, that fallacy is not evidence against the claim (that Ivan actually is an idiot).

Example #2:

Karen: I am sorry, but if you think man used to ride dinosaurs, then you are obviously not very well educated.

Kent:  First of all, I hold a PhD in creation science, so I am well-educated.  Second of all, your ad hominem attack shows that you are wrong, and man did used to ride dinosaurs.

Karen:  Getting your PhD in a couple months, from a “college” in a trailer park, is not being well-educated.  My fallacy in no way is evidence for man riding on dinosaurs, and despite what you may think, the Flintstone’s was not a documentary!

Explanation: Karen’s ad hominem fallacy in her initial statement has nothing to do with the truth value of the argument that man used to ride dinosaurs.

Exception: At times, fallacies are used by those who can’t find a better way to support the truth claims of their argument -- it could be a sign of desperation.  This can be evidence for them not being able to defend their claim, but not against the claim itself.

Variation: The bad reasons fallacy is similar, but the argument does not have to contain a fallacy -- it could just be a bad argument with bad evidence or reasons.  Bad arguments do not automatically mean that the conclusion is false; there can be much better arguments and reasons that support the truth of the conclusion.

I have never seen God; therefore, he does not exist.

This is a terrible reason to support a very strong conclusion, but this doesn’t mean that God does exist; it simply means the argument is weak.

The psychogenetic fallacy is inferring why an argument is being used, connecting it to some psychological reason, then assuming it is invalid, as a result.



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