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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Sean

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Sean


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#goingmad
#pleasehelp
Sat, Mar 23, 2019 - 12:09 PM

Is there a fallacy here, and how to respond to it?

Hello, I feel like I'm going mad trying to deal with something which seems so obvious that I'm actually struggling to respond to the situation;

Liz says that she had no choice but to press the red, 'destroy the world' button, because of the way Philip made her feel.

Is there a fallacy, can anyone help Philip understand how to show Liz this?

Please help



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4 Answers

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Sat, Mar 23, 2019 - 12:29 PM
Your question gets more into philosophy and psychology than logical fallacies. Liz is making a claim that her feelings are causing her to take action X. This may or may not be the case. Her "reasoning" is that her feelings determined the action. Again, this might be the case, or might not. As a social psychologist, I can sympathize with her position since social influence can be extremely powerful. Did she not have a choice in the matter? That might get us into the topic of freewill, which is a mess. I might provide Liz with the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent." The point being, we do have control over how we let people affect us.

I see no obvious fallacy here or problem with her reasoning. Her problem appears to be allowing others to control her emotions to the extent that it causes her and others harm.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.


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Print Sat, Mar 23, 2019 - 01:03 PM
That's a hard question, and I hope that you will do everything you can to help Liz. I wonder if she could use some short-time counseling or a professionally-led support group to help her get through it. How would I know? But I'll suggest a few possible fallacies that aren't in any fallacy book that I know about.

First, maybe "Can't see the forest for the trees."

Second, maybe, "lack of proportion."

Anyway, good luck to both of you. Peace.


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Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

Master Contributor

About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Sat, Mar 23, 2019 - 02:51 PM
I'll let the professional psychologists weigh in on this one, but I can see two distractions from two sides interfering in an
open honest communication between Liz and the seemingly ernest interlocutor named Sean. We're not given any information about
Phillip to really diagnose a particular trait other than the fact that he infuriates Liz and confounds Sean.

Liz's claim is a classic Argumentum ad baculum (See Dr. Bo's Appeal to Force) distraction i.e. "if Phillip keeps mistreating/misunderstanding or misbehaving this way I swear I will push the red button and destroy the frickin' world."

Appeal to Force
argumentum ad baculum

(also known as: argument to the cudgel, appeal to the stick)

Description: When force, coercion, or even a threat of force is used in place of a reason in an attempt to justify a conclusion.

Logical Form:

If you don’t accept X as true, I will hurt you.

Sean, The Inquirer. however, is also making an Appeal to pity or Argumentum ad Misericordium on Liz's behalf. There's no reason given for
Phillip's behavior or seeming lack of compassion or understanding. For all we know Liz is a drama queen, or, perhaps even a psychopath and Phillip's indifference could be simply one of either despair or sheer futility.

We don't know if he's called 911 or the suicide hot line or if he's in any way responsible for setting Liz off. Nonetheless, Sean, the Inquirer
makes an Appeal to Pity to all of us to intervene with Phillip on Liz's behalf.

Appeal to Pity
ad misericordiam

(also known as: appeal to sympathy)

Description: The attempt to distract from the truth of the conclusion by the use of pity.

Logical Forms:

Person 1 is accused of Y, but person 1 is pathetic.
Therefore, person 1 is innocent.

X is true because person 1 worked really hard at making X true.



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Sean

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Print Sun, Mar 24, 2019 - 03:56 AM
Thank you all.

Rather than pressing the red button, could Liz have chosen to, for example, not press it?

If there were other options, would there then be a fallacy?


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Bo Bennett, PhD
moderator
Sunday, March 24, 2019 - 06:18:27 AM
@Sean : I want to make sure I am understading the question, you wrote "Liz says that *he* had no choice but to press the red, 'destroy the world' button," Who is "he" or did you mean she?

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Sean
Sunday, March 24, 2019 - 06:28:20 AM
Doh! Yes, LIZ says LIZ had no choice! Sorry /thank you

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Sean
Sunday, March 24, 2019 - 06:30:11 AM
What do I do about this mess, can I edit it or...?

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Bo Bennett, PhD
moderator
Sunday, March 24, 2019 - 06:36:01 AM
@Sean : Fixed it for you.

Again, I am not seeing any fallacy. But if someone says "they have no choice" they always do if referring to act of agency (i.e., one might have no choice to fall off a cliff if they are pushed but they have a choice to jump or not). So they would simply be factually incorrect.

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Sean
Sunday, March 24, 2019 - 07:01:09 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thanks again!

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Bo Bennett, PhD
moderator
Sunday, March 24, 2019 - 07:40:21 AM
@Sean : I forgot to add that the "choice" they do have may be very undesirable, like getting shot in the head if they don't do something. So when people say they don't have a choice, they often mean that they only have one obvious choice, not necessarily ruling out that there are other choices that are not clear to them. From what little I can gather from your initial post, I suspect that this may pertain to Liz... she is open to consider solutions besides blowing up the world.

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Sean
Saturday, March 23, 2019 - 01:03:57 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you!

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