4

For example, Mr. A says that Mr.B's argument is a logical fallacy.
But then Mr.B says to Mr.A "what you say that my argument is a logical fallacy" is a logical fallacy.

I'm sorry if this is a stupid question :).
I just wonder if it is possible or not.

Thank you.

  • 1
    Yes, e.g. "You are using false analogy here". - "No, that's you are the one commiting the fallacy calling my analogy a false one". – rus9384 Jul 14 '18 at 17:49
4

In a dispute it is possible for each opponent correctly to attribute a fallacy to the other. Not in the example above, in which A and B merely make statements and do not present any arguments. Your dialogue is not a case of argument but of claim and counter-claim. For a fallacy you need an argument - reasoning from premises to a conclusion.

Argument :

  1. If Raj is silent then Raj is not talking (premise).

  2. Raj is silent (premise).

  3. Therefore Raj is not talking (conclusion).

This is an argument but there is no fallacy in it.

Suppose, however, the following dialogue, about product X :

A :

That brand of medicine, X, has been on sale for decades.

This brand of medicine, Y, is new.

Given the advance of science, Y must be better than X.

Fallacy : novelty does not prove superiority.

B :

My grandfather has always taken X.

It always clears his illness.

Given that record, X must be better than Y.

Fallacy : irrelevant evidence - grandfather's experience with X tells you nothing about the quality of Y, which he has never taken.

In this dispute, the arguments on both sides are fallacious. So B can point out A's fallacy, and A can point out B's fallacy.

I have set out the respective arguments informally but there is no harm in this for present purposes.

  • Is accusing incorrectly, an opponent's argument of a logical fallacy, a logical fallacy? – mathnoob123 Jul 14 '18 at 18:44
  • 3
    A fallacy can only occur in an argument - as in my examples. An accusation is not an argument in the sense used in philosophy. If I incorrectly accuse my opponent of a fallacy, this is simply a false statement. It is not itself fallacious. 'Fallacy' does not mean just 'false statement', 'false claim' in philosophy, however it is used elsewhere; it means an argument which contains a logical error - as the dialogue between A and B contains logical errors. Hope this helps. – Geoffrey Thomas Jul 14 '18 at 18:55
  • +1 Good example. Both could be involved in fallacies – Frank Hubeny Jul 14 '18 at 19:34
  • As I read the question, it's asking specifically about calling someone claiming something is a fallacy a fallacy - this is possible, if their reasoning for saying it's a fallacy is flawed, but here you're just presenting two largely unrelated arguments (claiming that X is better than Y is not claiming that an argument for "Y is better than X" contains a fallacy - although I suppose an unrelated argument may in itself be a fallacy if one attempts to use it to argue that something else is a fallacy). – NotThatGuy Jul 16 '18 at 6:07
  • @NotThatGuy. Thanks - your final clause is what I had in mind. – Geoffrey Thomas Jul 16 '18 at 7:14
17

Finding a logical fallacy in someone's argument does not permit one to conclude that that person's conclusion is false only that the argument is fallacious.

If one uses a logical fallacy in someone's argument to claim that the conclusion of that person's fallacious argument is false then that would itself be a fallacy known as fallacy fallacy or argument from fallacy.

Consider the example provided by the OP:

For example, Mr. A says that Mr.B's argument is a logical fallacy. But then Mr.B says to Mr.A "what you say that my argument is a logical fallacy" is a logical fallacy.

It is unclear whether Mr. A is involved in a fallacy fallacy or argument from fallacy, because it is not clear whether Mr. A is concluding anything from observing that Mr. B's argument contains a logical fallacy.

However, if Mr. A not only pointed out that Mr. B's argument contained a fallacy but then asserted, because of that, that the conclusion Mr. B would like to show must be false, then Mr. A would also be involved in a fallacy.

It is also possible that what Mr. A pointed out about Mr. B's argument was mistaken. Perhaps Mr. B's argument does not contain a fallacy at all, but Mr. A's argument does. That might be another way for the example to occur.

5

Yes, it is possible for someone to wrongly claim an argument has a fallacy.

If A says:

All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore Socrates is mortal.

and B replies:

But Socrates has a beard, so that is a Red Herring fallacy.

Then A can reply:

Whether Socrates has a beard doesn't affect my argument. Your claim of a Red Herring Fallacy contains a Red Herring fallacy.

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