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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Jim Tarsi

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Jim Tarsi


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#logic
argument
politics
Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - 09:40 AM

Can an argument be fallacious for liberals yet sound for conservatives, and vice versa?

I recently made comments in some posts that I felt were becoming position arguments and straying from the main purpose of this site, which is determining if arguments are logically fallacious or not. After reading more responses and considering them, I began to wonder if arguments are fallacious or not based on ones political stance.

Initially, I thought that logic is logic, and an argument is sound or not regardless of who says it. (The same is not true for valid arguments. For an argument to be valid, it must be sound, and all statements must be true. We can certainly differ on whether we see certain statements as true or not.)

An example is this:

Immigrants pose a financial drain on the US economy.
Our economy suffers with a financial drain of this magnitude.
Therefore, we cannot allow immigrants to enter the country.

I see this as a sound argument. If we assume the first two statements are true, the last one follows logically.

On the other hand, I believe everyone can see how this can be a valid or non-valid argument based on ones political beliefs. Liberals and conservatives disagree on whether our economy will be affected by such a financial drain, or whether immigrants boost the economy enough that any financial drain is offset by an increase in productivity.

I for one am glad this site doesn't get bogged down in political discourse. I get more than enough of that on Facebook.



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2 Answers

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

Moderator

About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - 10:10 AM
Just a quick correction, I think you meant to switch "valid" and "sound". An argument is only sound if the premises are true, so one's proclivity to accept the truth of premises would affect the argument's "soundness" (in their minds). All sound arguments must be valid, but all valid argument don't need to be sound.

Let's clean this up just to ensure that it is a deductive argument rather than an informal one:

P1. Immigrants pose a financial drain on the US economy.
P2. Our economy suffers with from a financial drain of this magnitude.
P3. Therefore, we cannot if we allow immigrants to enter the country our economy will suffer.

A few things to note:

1) Removed language that introduces ambiguity (e.g., "of this magnitude') - it isn't necessary
2) The conclusion, as it was originally written, came to a broad conclusion not supported by the premises. What if the good immigrants do outweigh the financial drain on the economy?
3) Regardless of one's political, religious, or other ideological position, the truth isn't affected. Like the saying goes, facts don't care if you believe in them or not; they're still facts. This doesn't mean that one can't believe an argument to be sound when it really isn't. Then the argument shifts from the validation of the argument to the validation of the (alleged) facts in the premises.

Hope that answers your question!
Bo Bennett, PhD
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Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

Seasoned Vet

About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - 10:59 AM
Excellent answer. Drop the mic.


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Registered User Comments

Colin P
Tuesday, November 06, 2018 - 04:28:44 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Also, as clarified this would be an example of an argument that is not sound because all the premises are not true (or at the very least are not proven). PS if you got this as a private comment first, apologies, just my bad :-)

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Jim Tarsi
Tuesday, November 06, 2018 - 04:13:47 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thanks for correcting me. I did mix up "sound" and "valid."

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