240

This line of argument is basically a strawman fallacy, which is when you construct a weaker version of your opponent's argument in order to then disprove it. In this case the weaker argument is that "guns kill people" all by themselves. No one actually believes that or argues that. Even the most committed gun control advocate acknowledges that firing a ...


54

This is not the only issue with Pascal's Wager, but what is described in the question is called the fallacy of proving too much. It happens when an argument is structured in such a way that the reasoning can be extended to reach "absurd" conclusions. This gives an effective strategy for refuting arguments on the arguer's own terms by exposing the fact they ...


45

Do you have a proof that we don't hold ourselves to higher standards? There's actually a rather interesting little corner of mathematics called "proof theory." It deals with the question of what a proof is and how can we use them. It starts to look like philosophy from time to time. I think the real difference is that mathematics typically starts with a ...


44

To complement Chris' answer I'll try to deconstruct some of the reasoning in the arguments a bit. Suppose we claim that "guns don't kill people; people kill people." The only reasonable way to parse this into a slightly more formal statement is: Guns are not responsible for killing people; people are responsible for killing people. I can think of ...


43

dimension of comparison = something you can compare things about. i.e., consider two dogs: a toy poodle and a doberman pinscher. You can compare them in terms of size in which case size is the dimension of comparison. You can compare then in terms of weight in which case weight is the dimension of comparison. This is not a term of art in philosophy. This ...


39

If you are dismissing an argument because its proponent is dismissing their own advice, then you yourself are committing a fallacy. It's a version of the ad hominem called tu quoque (basically: you too!). The fallacy is also known as: The appeal to hypocrisy. What is valid though, is that you have reason to then doubt the integrity of the person. While the ...


39

Its a funny thing. Like David Blomstrom, I don't think this is actually a fallacy. The trick is that, in order to have a logical fallacy, one must have a logical argument. This consists of premises and conclusions. So what are the conclusions? Person 1 - Premise: "The US government engaged in a targeted and precise campaign to destroy Native American ...


36

Reductio ad absurdum is not a fallacy. Rather, RAA is correct reasoning that exposes a fallacy. From the Logically Fallacious page for it: [RAA is a] mode of argumentation or a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd conclusion.... The fallacy is in the argument that could be reduced ...


35

Your example is not a valid case of Reductio ad Absurdum. It's just an example of an absurd argument. A real example would be: Miles: "Copying a DVD is stealing" Frank: "Why?" Miles: "If someone created a piece of art, they have full rights to allow or prohibit its reproduction" Frank: "Oh, so when I take a selfie in the city, I need to ...


34

This is not a fallacy, just the old problem of induction. A case of hasty generalisation would be to conclude that the witness tends to lie, if you have observed it two times in a row.


33

Dawkins is using the concept of smelliness for laughs, but the serious point that he's making is that we are capable of judging smelliness without a supremum of smelliness. The same goes for elevation: we do not need an "Absolute Up", like some sort of absolute zero, to make height comparisons. Humans are perfectly capable of making relative judgements of ...


32

All informal fallacies take their force from their similarity to strong arguments. In this case, if you say "This boy lied 19 days in a row, therefore we have good reason to disbelieve him on Day 20," that is a perfectly good argument (assuming it isn't suppressing other relevant information). But if you say "This boy lied 19 days in a row, therefore what ...


31

Well, if I asked a community of non-experts how to perform key-hole surgery and I also asked a community of doctors, I am more likely to get a better answer from the second group. But of course, these doctors may not be surgeons as so they might plead ignorance. The point is the advice is more likely to be correct. It's a question of probability and not ...


22

In my opinion this isn't actually a philosophical problem. What Dawkins is attempting to point out is that the fact that any two elements are comparable doesn't mean there are absolute maximums or minimums. A less contentious example is the set of integers. Sure, it is the case that 2 is greater than 1 in the usual metric, but that doesn't magically imply ...


22

This is officially called the fallacy of relative privation, colloquially better known as appeal to worse problems, or "children are starving in Africa" argument. The implication is that anything short of starving children is not worthy of serious discussion. More precisely the fallacy is "arguing that expressing concern about a (relatively) small problem ...


22

The second premise is false unless "heinous crime" and "insane" are defined to make it true by definition, in which case the definitions are question begging. But because people committing heinous crimes are convicted despite the insanity defense, premise 2 fails at least on the legal definition of "insanity". The third premise is also false; otherwise ...


21

Frank’s argument is not a reductio. It is an argument from analogy, which is not deductive reasoning and needs to be evaluated differently (Mark’s answer adequately covers the fact that reductio is a valid form of reasoning.)


21

Aristotle's syllogistic logic is too weak for serious work. It does not readily express multi-place predicates. You cannot express two-place relations like, "John loves Mary", or three-place relations like, "John is standing between Mary and Joanne", without using some odd-looking additional apparatus for converting n-place predicates ...


20

I'm going to have to disagree with Chris. Any analogy is going to rely - to one extent or another - on the background knowledge of the audience it's being presented to. In this particular analogy, it relies on the audience knowing what guns are, that there is already legislation in place controlling them, that some people violate this legislation, and ...


20

"Belief" is a modality; thus, you are right in saying that "do not believe P" is not equivalent to "to believe not-P". Compare with possibly and necessary : The operator ◊ (for ‘possibly’) can be defined from □ [‘it is necessary that’] by letting ◊P = ¬□¬P. This means that e.g. : ¬◊P is not equivalent to ◊¬P. The same thing happens with quantifiers; ¬∃...


19

If I'm understanding your question correctly, then you're basically asking "why doesn't philosophy have the same level of rigor as mathematical proof?" I think there's two parts involved in answering this. First, one aspect of philosophy for many philosophers (arguably all) is that philosophy is actually a form of history, meaning we are studying ...


18

"Guns don't kill people; people kill people" is not an argument, it's a slogan. It may be the case that this slogan is just a way to get people to discuss the role of individual responsibility in what policies the government ought to adopt with respect to guns or something like that. Or perhaps it is just a signal that a person has some particular position ...


18

I think I found something that comes close: Appeal to probability (Wikipedia) An appeal to probability (or appeal to possibility) is the logical fallacy of taking something for granted because it would probably be the case (or might possibly be the case). and An appeal to probability argues that, because something probably will happen, it is ...


17

I think the fallacy is something along the lines of: Because we cannot provably apply rational thought to what motivates every insane person, every time, we can never apply rational thought to the insane in any situation. It also presumes that an explanation one's actions has to be necessary and sufficient, rather than merely a way to convey information. ...


16

I don't think we can categorize it under a single fallacy. Furthermore...why would we want to? We'd have to explain our reasoning anyway. What we do instead is simply look for the premises of the argument and attack them. Pascal's Wager makes the following problematic premises: There either exists a god C or there don't exist any god. We either believe ...


14

The implicit crux of the analogy is that Gun Control only affects law-abiding citizens. The idea is that law abiding people don't misuse guns, the same way that sober people don't drunk-drive. Meanwhile, criminal elements will continue to obtain and use guns, so if the problem with gun violence is from criminal elements, making it harder to have guns won't ...


14

The questioner believes that Pascal must be committing a fallacy since he reasons that Pascal's reasoning can be applied to other cases, e.g., to show the existence of Black Magic or Satan. The questioner reasons as follows: If the use value is the reason for believing in God, then surely, one should believe in any ideas insofar as believing in their ...


14

Philosophical theories are more like scientific theories than mathematical theories, in that they have empirical content. As such, there aren't any (universally agreed upon) "first principles" that must be respected. Any potential first principles might get discarded if the reasons for doing so are compelling enough. And even if there are some such ...


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