241 votes
Accepted

Is 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' a good argument?

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 "...
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55 votes
Accepted

What fallacy in Pascal's Wager allows replacing God with the devil?

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 ...
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  • 40.7k
45 votes

Is 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' a good argument?

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 ...
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  • 7,171
45 votes

Why doesn't philosophy have higher standards for its arguments?

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 ...
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  • 17.2k
42 votes

Why does Dawkins think it is wrong to posit that a paragon of 100% morals could theoretically exist?

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 ...
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  • 24.3k
39 votes

Does hypocrisy invalidate an argument?

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 ...
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  • 1,424
38 votes

What is this logical fallacy? (Nothing new under the sun?)

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 ...
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  • 17.2k
36 votes

Is reductio ad absurdum a fallacy?

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 ...
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  • 4,640
35 votes

Is reductio ad absurdum a fallacy?

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 ...
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  • 502
34 votes

Why does Dawkins think it is wrong to posit that a paragon of 100% morals could theoretically exist?

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:...
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34 votes

What fallacy is assuming something is the case because of past events

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.
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  • 1,007
33 votes

What fallacy is assuming something is the case because of past events

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,"...
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31 votes

Is it fallacious to argue that something is correct, of good quality, or acceptable because a community of experts has established it as such?

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 ...
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22 votes

Why does Dawkins think it is wrong to posit that a paragon of 100% morals could theoretically exist?

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 ...
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  • 355
22 votes
Accepted

What fallacy dismisses problems by presenting "bigger" problems?

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 ...
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  • 40.7k
22 votes

Is it a fallacy to say that a sane person cannot apply rational thought to the motivations of the insane?

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 ...
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  • 40.7k
21 votes

Is reductio ad absurdum a fallacy?

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 ...
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  • 5,118
21 votes
Accepted

Why bother with anything else besides Aristotle's syllogistic logic?

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-...
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  • 15.5k
20 votes
Accepted

How is gun violence comparable to drunk driving?

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, ...
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  • 333
20 votes
Accepted

Is rejecting A not equivalent to accepting ~A?

"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 ...
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19 votes

Why doesn't philosophy have higher standards for its arguments?

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 ...
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  • 24.3k
18 votes

Is 'guns don't kill people, people kill people' a good argument?

"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 ...
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  • 6,985
18 votes

What fallacy is assuming something is the case because of past events

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 ...
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  • 461
17 votes

Is it a fallacy to say that a sane person cannot apply rational thought to the motivations of the insane?

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 ...
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  • 17.2k
16 votes

What fallacy in Pascal's Wager allows replacing God with the devil?

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 ...
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  • 1,875
14 votes

How is gun violence comparable to drunk driving?

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. ...
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14 votes

What fallacy in Pascal's Wager allows replacing God with the devil?

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 ...
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14 votes

Why doesn't philosophy have higher standards for its arguments?

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 ...
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  • 3,759

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