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AllanfromWales1 t1_jd7k4wn wrote

Surely the key point is that just because an argument contains a fallacy, it doesn't follow that the conclusion reached is wrong. Once that is acknowledged, all the rest falls pretty easily into place.


Prof_ThrowAway_69 t1_jd7t06g wrote

The entire idea that false or bad logic means the conclusion reached is inaccurate is in and of itself a logical fallacy. People need to understand that. However, to say that “logical fallacies” (or pointing them out) is bad for society is also flawed. It’s an outright attack on rationality and logic.

Logic is the set of rules by which the universe operates. Discarding those rules turns the world on its head and allows for humans (or at least those with high power) to define reality. Humans by there very nature are evil (or at minimum highly self centered). Building a system that provides the potential for others to take advantage of their power by defining reality is dangerous and should be considered carefully.

A better solution to logical fallacies and the fallacies that fall into place when using them would be to better educate the people on formal logic and rationality. Just because people can’t be responsible with something doesn’t mean it should be forever removed. Education rather than revocation should be the mantra. If you teach people self control and self sufficiency it follows that you will need less centralized control and aid towards sufficiency. Society is better off when people can be independent rather than dependent. The more you increase dependency the more you increase a tyrannical persons ability to gather power.


AllanfromWales1 t1_jd83gj9 wrote

For what it's worth, my mother gave me a copy of Thouless' "Straight and Crooked Thinking" when I was around 10 to 12 years old (my memory fades on the precise date), and it has guided me these past 55 years. My position is that you can't prove a point by using fallacious arguments, but that without arguments you can't prove anything.


Prof_ThrowAway_69 t1_jd8l195 wrote

Proving something isn’t the same as something being true. I agree you can’t prove something with flawed logic. That doesn’t make the statement true or false though. That exists independently of a persons ability to prove it. The laws of nature are going to govern the world whether or not anyone can prove that they exist.

We need to be careful not to confuse proving something with whether or not something is true. I agree with the article’s point that someone can make a statement that is truthful whether or not they used proper logic to come to that conclusion. Where I differ from the article is that I don’t believe that the person is guaranteed to be right about anything else, nor would I believe that their logic is valid.


AllanfromWales1 t1_jd8lrws wrote

Quite. A flawed argument will not convince me that some proposition is true, but it also won't convince me that it is false. It just remains unproven (in this context).


gimboarretino t1_jd9bexb wrote

This is true only for empirical conclusions. "The grass is green" might be a correct statement even if I reach it with illogical argumenets.

But if don't have empirical counter-factual elements (and you don't have them in many fields) a sound logic is all you have.


AllanfromWales1 t1_jd9he9t wrote



gimboarretino t1_jd9r0yx wrote

"Slavery is ethically acceptable" or "The only true meaning of life is chasing pleasure" "The Godfather is the best movie ever"

Demonstrate that I'm wrong/right with a illogical and fallacious arguments.


AllanfromWales1 t1_jd9tqnh wrote

If you accept that starting from a false premise counts as a fallacious argument that's easy. Example:

  • The bible is the source of all valid ethics
  • The bible approves of slavery [demonstrably true]
  • Therefore slavery is ethically acceptable


  • The quality of a movie can be assessed by its reviews in the media
  • Media reviews of the Godfather were more positive than for all other films in history [almost certainly not true]
  • Therefore the Godfather is the best movie ever.

gimboarretino t1_jd9z8qx wrote

yeah, and starting from different false premises you can easily get to the opposite outcome (slavery non acceptable / Godfather not the Greatest).

How do you establish which is the best conclusion (truth or merely acceptable) if not on the basis of a rigorous check on logical reasoning?


AllanfromWales1 t1_jda59b4 wrote

Did I ever suggest to the contrary? A combination of checking the validity of the premises and the logic of the argument is the only tool we have.


EatThisShoe t1_jdavpje wrote

Those are just subjective statements. you don't even need logic or facts, at the end of the day you can feel one way and other people can feel differently, and neither will be right or wrong.


gimboarretino t1_jdbvwqy wrote

Well, those are the kind of thems around which our entire existence revolves and around which a good deal of discussion takes place.

ethics, politics, laws... and a logical evaluation is the only one you can make if you want to determine which are correct/acceptable and which are not


SarcasticMisha t1_jd94vxx wrote

His distaste for utilizing fallacies based on how his students reacted, says more about the teaching style or the way it was explained rather than fallacy theory itself. He further goes on to say that "arguments that are deemed ‘fallacious’ according to the standard approach are always closely related to arguments that, in many contexts, are perfectly reasonable", which would, to me, seem to imply the arguments are indeed fallacious but are close to being logically sound. This doesn't really address the problem with fallacy theory.

Pointing out a logical fallacy is not like blowing a 'whistle' nor does it automatically make you win an argument. There is actually a fallacy, aptly called the argument from fallacy (or argumentum ad logicam), which talks about the assumption that, if a particular argument for a "conclusion" is fallacious, the conclusion by itself is false.

Fallacies are just a framework to correct the logic within arguments, and in most cases that is to prevent incorrect conclusions. Fallacies are pretty crucial in discussions and debates because what we try to achieve most of the time is a logical outcome, which can be a better understanding, deciding what is true or what is false. A big part of this process is logically sound thinking and arguments.


bigbenis21 t1_jdgbgxi wrote

This. One of the biggest mistakes English class ever did us was convince a bunch of people that fallacious arguments are wrong BECAUSE they’re fallacious.

So often in debate nowadays even among intellectuals we see this unending need to prove someone is wrong through how they say something instead of what they’re saying. As a result “debate” has just become this jostling of seeing who can spot the hole in an argument first and declare it to be wrong.


Whetfarts69 t1_jd7liw4 wrote

Really depends on where the fallacy is, and how many forks exist within the argument - that is how complex and dependent upon arguments vs evidence - and how many credible arguments are necessary to consider. What the magnitude and scope of the argument is, and how important it may potentially be or influential it is, on something say socioeconomic quality of life or morality, immediate physical threat, etc. VS something like which artwork is better or whether pineapple belongs on pizza 😂 (it's been firmly-regarded as irrefutable philosophical truth that it doesn't FYI).

I mean yeah technically containing a fallacy doesn't make the whole argument fallacious or worthless...but it still often does. So I don't think we need to do away with Fallacy Theory; we need to use it more appropriately/proportionally; conversely we also should make better arguments, with few, less extreme, or no logical fallacies.

I can readily disregard Fallacy Theory, then proceed to have my above argument become stronger, or more true than not, at least partly due to Fallacy Theory not being here to thwart me! 😂


VioletKate99 t1_jd7nvgb wrote

Just pointing out a fallacy is not enough, you also have to be able to show how that fallacy discredits the argument as it is used. People commiting fallacies are just doing a quick patch job on a structure that is their argument. And as any patch job it can be just fine, ugly, or it can be a life hazard.


bigbenis21 t1_jdgbqcz wrote

I really like your patchwork analogy because I always think of ideas as a boat with fallacies being flex tape. If I just put flex tape on a tiny hole in the back of my otherwise usable boat because I don’t like water splashing on my leg and making my pants wet, it’s really not that important and more of a personal preference thing.

If I have to wrap the whole middle of my boat so it doesn’t split in half, I might just need to accept the fact that it’s no longer seaworthy.


XiphosAletheria t1_jdjbz03 wrote

>Just pointing out a fallacy is not enough, you also have to be able to show how that fallacy discredits the argument as it is used.

By definition the fallacy discredits the argument it was a part of. It does not, however, disprove the conclusion. If you say "the sky is blue because Joe Biden says so", I can point out that this is an argument from authority, and doing so immediately discredits your argument. The sky remains blue, however.


VioletKate99 t1_jdjo2br wrote

That is true, but the point of the post is that people don't make these kinds of arguments in real life. If I say "yesterday the bottom of the sky was red, and I know because my brother told me and I don't think he would lie to me". This sentence reflects real life more because you example is based on the absurdity of someone arguing a known universal truth, that creates the exact kind of toy sentence example that can then be easily discredited.


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Lost-Negotiation-126 t1_jd88dqx wrote

Link doesn't open for me.

Fallacies of formal logic should be taken seriously, but in arguments and everyday talk we're not supposed to only make points that 100% follow from one another.


BenDjinn t1_jd8xoqt wrote

I agree that having a fallacy in a premise doesn't cause the following conclusion to be false but it still detracts from the relative truth of the argument. Some fallacies are unavoidable like adhere to authority or straw man but doing our best to mitigate fallacies is one of the defining factors of rationality. Refusing to hold political debates to the same standards as high school debates is what has led the US political scene to be so irrational.


bigbenis21 t1_jdgbz18 wrote

Our current struggle with fallacy-ism is that we use it to argue about stuff in our everyday lives. Sometimes people just don’t need to explain why they like or don’t like something, because we’re emotional creatures. Sometimes we don’t even know why we like or don’t like something, but we shouldn’t be required to give a water-tight example of why we like or don’t like it.


Namnotav t1_jder3ey wrote

This isn't an indefensible stance or anything. While I have personally found some knowledge and awareness of cognitive biases to be pretty useful in tuning my own belief formation processes, I get those aren't the same thing as fallacies, though surely in the family. On the other hand, all the way from actually being a philosophy student 24 years ago to just spending more time than is healthy reading stuff like this on the web today, I think I've seen fallacies trotted out as a blunt object that ends discussions and indicts not obviously wrong reasoning more often than not.

But not at all universally. Especially post hoc ergo propter hoc. That is especially pernicious because it works as well as it does in terms of how humans come to build world models from experience. It works quite well when you want to know what happens when you punch a wall. Great for babies.

But it is not at all great for evaluating medical treatment. Saying it shouldn't be trotted out if we don't have randomized clinical trials indicating the opposite is ignoring that understanding of the fact that correlation doesn't equal causation is the very reason we have randomized clinical trials in the first place. Placebo effect, regression to the mean, and good old fashioned positive thinking if an ailment is largely subjective, are very real. A whole lot of treatments appear to work that can be proven to do nothing when they're actually put to the test. If using an unproven treatment doesn't obviously harm you and seems to work and you want to personally continue using it on that basis, feel free, but if you're going to trot that out as meaningful evidence that it actually works, pulling out post hoc ergo propter hoc is 1000% appropriate. Letting that slide is the basis of entire billion dollar industries that either do nothing but drain money or outright con people. Awareness of how causation can truly be demonstrated in complex systems that are not amenable to simply observing sequences of events and inferring what happened under the hood is a good thing.