Question 1: What is the recommended methodology for identifying specific fallacies? Is there a "Decision Tree", or some other helpful approach?

Question 2: Or, at the very least, are there top, high level, classifications for Fallacies that will help narrow it down? An Ontology of Fallacies? (A UML Chart?)

Many times, when I respond in a discussion, I have to invent a name for a fallacy, (which is usually fairly descriptive), rather than provide "the official name" of one--because I just can't remember.

At other times, I just want to validate, and confirm, a statement about fallacies, or ensure others can research it.

For example, a lot of times I want to say, "That is Begging the Question". But, I am misunderstood to mean, "Raising the Question". So, I end up saying something like, "You are injecting another issue, (your own presupposition), in support of your argument, but that there is no basis, or proof, for this presupposition."

And ironically, that is understood better than, "Begging the Question".


1 Answer 1


You just need some experience. After you have seen a lot, you will recognise others more easily.

If your conversation partners don't know the terms, it's indeed better to explain them. It's most important to be absolutely clear - definitely more important than using the correct terms. Often, you don't even need to tell them they have committed a fallacy. With constructions like "So then you would also say that [something ridiculous]".

  • Thanks, it just seems that I can never find an exhaustive list of all fallacies, (not that there is one). And, in the lists I do find, I can't find the fallacy I am looking for; but I know I have seen it somewhere ... May 30, 2015 at 7:31
  • @e.s.kohen Wikipedia has an extensive list. And otherwise you can also say "This is kind of an argumentum ad hominem, in that it ..."
    – user2953
    May 30, 2015 at 7:32
  • thanks. .. I have been all over that, many times over, and nizkor ... can you recommend any others? For example, I just posted an inquiry regarding Inductive Forms leading to Deductive Conclusions ... How would I go about looking this up? I am trying to avoid spamming stackexchange every time I can't find the exact name of a fallacy. May 30, 2015 at 7:39
  • @e.s.kohen sorry, I don't know any other list. In any case, it's not the point to know 500 different fallacies. Most people don't know all that are listed on Wikipedia, they won't know others for sure. In that case it's better to just explain why the argument doesn't hold.
    – user2953
    May 30, 2015 at 7:43
  • 1
    I just received this: fallacyfiles.org/taxonomy.html May 30, 2015 at 7:54

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