There is 3 types of fallacies that comes to my mind for this,

  1. Fallacy of straw man

A straw man (sometimes written as strawman) is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one

Straw man

In the situation I refer to, it shares the feature that they are refuting an argument that was not addressed or refuted by the speaker, but they are refering to the argument of another speaker so it seems different.

  1. Fallacy of association

An association fallacy is an informal inductive fallacy of the hasty-generalization or red-herring type and which asserts, by irrelevant association and often by appeal to emotion, that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another. Two types of association fallacies are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association.

Premise: A is a B Premise: A is also a C Conclusion: Therefore, all Bs are Cs

Association fallacy

In the situation I refer to, they are asserting the qualities of one person are the same that other qualities a group he belongs to has, so it seems similar to a fallacy of association, but it turns out to be that the person either doesnt belong to that group they are implying, so it seems different in this sense.

  1. Fallacy ad hominem

Ad hominem (Latin for 'to the person'), short for argumentum ad hominem (Latin for 'argument to the person'), refers to several types of arguments, some but not all of which are fallacious. Typically this term refers to a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself. The most common form of ad hominem is "A makes a claim x, B asserts that A holds a property that is unwelcome, and hence B concludes that argument x is wrong".

Ad Hominem

In the situation I describe, they are indeed asserting that the person has a property that is unwelcome, and therefore the argument is wrong (fallacy), in this sense it seems this type of fallacy, but it turns out that the unwelcome property is also false, so in this sense it seems another kind of fallacy.

So, to me, the fallacy I refer to it seems like a combination or mix of the 3 types of fallacies I mentioned, but may be I'm wrong and it's just one of them, or 2. Does the fallacy I describe (which is very common by the way) have a name?

Which kind of fallacy is a fallacy that associates a person to the negative ideas of a group he doesnt belong to?

  • Generalization? Prejudice?
    – gsmafra
    May 11 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


The best response I can think of is that such arguments are invalid because they have an undistributed middle term. The general form is this: All P are M; All S are M; thus All S are P. Concretely, this argument is best illustrated by the Association Fallacy described in the question. However, the other two examples depend upon the same fallacy. Because there is no middle term that connects the major and minor premises, the conclusion cannot follow.

  • -1: Surely the simplest term is 'prejudice'? After all racists have often said blacks are m******. This is a "negative" group that blacks do not belong to. It's a fallacy (and here I'm not using the word in its use in logic but as in ordinary everyday language) that all mistakes in reasoning can be reduced to a fallacy. Would you not agree? May 11 at 19:14
  • @MoziburUllah. The simplest term is indeed “prejudice”. However, in this example, “prejudice” is just shorthand for the lack of a distributed middle term. Every mistake in reasoning can find its source in some fallacy. May 11 at 19:26
  • No, it is not. It's prejudice is a simple statement and not a syllogism. May 11 at 20:52
  • And don't you know the famous anecdote told by the Indian economist Amartya Sen about Wittgenstein and his obsession about logic? When W was babbling logic at Sraffa, a friend of Sen and also an economist, Sraffa made a rude gesture to W and asked him pointedly, "what's the logical form of that?" W had no answer because there was no answer. Some language is purely performative. They are as Austin calls them, acts. May 11 at 22:29
  • So I repeat: Prejudice is not "shorthand for the lack of a distributed middle term". I do know what that means. Perhaps you are blinded a little by the use of impressive sounding logical terms? May 11 at 22:34

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