When are Fallacies false?

One thing I’ve noted about logical fallacies… they ain’t. At least not all of them all the time. Oh sure, they’re an intellectual and emotional shorthand and often do mess things up, but contained within them is an awful lot of good sense, which enables people to make reasonable judgements without having to think through from first principles and acquiring all the facts (which nobody can do anyway).

For example, Ad Hominem is a pretty good one. Maybe Hitler suddenly pops up with a program for world peace and prosperity, but you’d be a fool to listen to him. It’s most suspect where the counter-arguer is biased or irrational.

For example, Diogenes the Cynic can be counted on to interject several lines about Bush is the avatar of sin and stupidity incarnate, or how McCain is a nightmarish fiend of unrelenting horror, into pretty much everything. It doesn’t matter what the thread is, seemingly Dio will find to way to say how much he hates anyone and everything which is not his political pet. His arguments are unreliable because he views everything through the lens of “Is My Politics == Good” and “Is Not My Politics == Bad”.
Of course, some of them just plain suck.

Is this a debate or just a really weak Pitting?

Ad hominem is when you attack the person when the person itself isn’t relevant to the debate. It’s attacking the person making an argument, to draw away attention from the argument and its reasoning.

Which is what you appear to be doing. Except that Dio isn’t even involved in this thread :confused: Let’s just say I’m confused about what the point of your post is.

So what you’re saying is that you don’t understand logical fallacies?

That wouldn’t be an ad hominem, because Hitler has a definite and well-earned reputation when it comes to matters about world peace and prosperity. If Hitler says, “Do this, and everyone will be rich and happy!” it’s entirely germane to point out that his last idea for social engineering caused the deaths of tens of millions of people and devastated the economy of an entire continent.

On the other hand, if Hitler pops up and says, “You know, I’ve found that a vegetarian diet with lots of fiber is good for problems with constipation,” then bringing up the fact that he’s a genocidal warmongerer would be an ad hominem, because being History’s Greatest Mass Murderer doesn’t mean he’s ignorant about digestion.

Fallacies are only fallacies when you use them and somebody doesn’t agree with you even if they used them first, or they attack first and you try to refute their arguments.

In other words, inasmuch as they exist at all they serve only to derail an argument that someone doesn’t like. Other than that, you may fire at leisure and nobody cares.

If the defendant committed this crime, we would have all this evidence. We have all this evidence. Therefore, the defendant committed this crime.

The prosecution rests, your Honor.

The purpose of logic (at least, a major purpose of logic) is to answer the question “What conclusions are guaranteed to be true, given true premises.”

Premise: All mice are mammals.
Premise: Mickey is a mouse.
Conclusion: Mickey is a mammal.

I don’t have to know what the meanings of “mice”, “Mammals”, or “Mickey” in order to know that if the premises are true, then the conclusion is true. I know it by the structure of the argument alone. That’s logic.

If I said:
Premise: All mice are mammals.
Premise: Mickey is a mammal.
Conclusion: Mickey is a mouse.

Then I would have committed a fallacy, since the argument does not guarantee Mickey is a mouse, even though both premises are true. As it happens, Mickey is a mouse, so the conclusion is true, even though the reasoning is fallacious.

In short:
If your reasoning is fallacious, your conclusion is not guaranteed by the premises.
Your conclusion might still be true.
Your premises might still even be evidence that your conclusion is probably true.
But your argument doesn’t prove your conclusion. So if you are claiming it does, then you’re both committing a fallacy and simply wrong.

I hope you’re saying that tongue-in-cheek. Whether reasoning is fallacious or not is tremendously relevant in the study of logic, mathematics, philosophy, science, etc.

It just isn’t always relevant to arguments on internet message boards.:wink:

It’s not about whether the fallacy is true or not, but about whether the argument is logically valid. These are not the same thing.

Agreed, but the OP was discussing it as a specific application here. I respectfully submit that logic is frequently in short supply here.

Thanks for clearing that up. :rolleyes:

No matter how one spins it, the second you identify a fallacy, it’s false.

No matter how one spins it, the second you identify a fallacy, it’s false.

I have no idea what you’re trying to say here, but the fact is that fallacious statements are often not “false,” they simply don’t lead to the conclusion.

Then, they’re not fallacious.

Please re-read my example in post #8. You can have a fallacious argument even if both the premises and conclusion are true. It just means the logical steps to get from one to the other aren’t valid.

I think you have to get past the notion that fallacious = false. They are not synonyms.

This might help: http://www.triviumpursuit.com/articles/formal_informal_fallacies.php

What condescension. You obviously think I haven’t read that and so you wish to educate me right?:frowning:

I have to wonder at this point if you’re putting us on or not.

The intersection of this thread and your user name lead me to suspect disingenousness.