Thursday, September 6, 2012

Logical Fallacies: The Slippery Slope to Mediocre Writing

When presenting an argument, even if the premises of the argument are reliably true, faulty reasoning, as is the case with logical fallacies, can be misleading and deceptive, leaving the conclusion of your argument logically unsound. In other words, even if the points to your argument are accurate, since no one is perfect, it is possible to fall into logical pitfalls if you are not aware of them and don’t make a conscious effort to avoid them. Thus, it is imperative that as a writer, you avoid logical fallacies, as they can render related arguments logically unsound. This in turn can diminish credibility in your writing, making your argument less convincing.

Although it would be impossible to list every conceivable logical fallacy that a writer can commit, here are some of the most common ones:
·      Ad Hominem – Rather than presenting a sound argument, this logical fallacy is when you attack the person you are arguing against rather than addressing their argument (e.g. “You think aliens are scarier than zombies? No they’re not because you are silly”).
·      Slippery Slope – This fallacy occurs when you argue that if A happens, then B, C, … X, Y, Z will happen too, so if we want to prevent Z from occurring, we must not let A transpire either (e.g. “If we start exploring space, then aliens will come and attack us, and therefore, we will inadvertently destroy the world”).
·      Hasty Generalization – This occurs when you present a conclusion when you have insufficient evidence (e.g. “Somebody came to the hospital last night with an unknown illness. It must be the zombie virus”).
·      Begging the Question – The conclusion to your argument is validated in the claims (e.g. “Those unnatural and disgusting aliens should be kept away at all costs to mankind”).
·      Circular Argument – When your argument is restated rather than substantiated (e.g. “Zombies are good predators because they hunt well”).
·      Ad populum – This fallacy occurs when your argument appeals emotionally to positive or negative notions rather than the real subject (e.g. “A true American would support the right to safely live without extraterrestrial influence in their lives”).
While these logical fallacies are important to look out for, it is still necessary to review your writing to ensure accuracy in your argument. After all, if you use logical fallacies, it will permanently discredit your writing and you will fail out of school and work at a fast food restaurant for the rest of your life. Just kidding! 

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