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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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Paer Toernell

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Paer Toernell


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Mon, Mar 11, 2019 - 12:40 PM

Fallacie to say "Your opinion is horrible"

Somebody say "Its a horrible way You interpret the Bible" (as in the conclusions you make are somehow "bad"). Fallacie or not?



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Kaiden

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Kaiden


Seasoned Vet

About Kaiden

I enjoy fitness, listening to and playing music, laughter, spending time with my grandparents and discussing ideas with other people. Intellectually, I am especially interested in topics in philosophy and theology. I am a student of philosophy at Indiana University.
Print Sun, Mar 17, 2019 - 03:36 PM
An anonymous person made the following remarks to my original post that I put up on March 11th:

“I don't agree.  I think this is personal opinion based not on fact but particular teaching or belief or common understanding.  I don't see that subjective opinion can be legitimately consistent with logic and therefore this is a logical fallacy.  I agree that two (or more) people can have differences of opinion and can argue them but it does not follow that those differences in opinion are all equally legitimate.”

What follows is my response to the anonymous person.


Hi!

The main points in your comment appear to be four in number. One, you disagree that the content of the post does not commit a fallacy. Secondly, you remark about the relationship between logic and subjective opinions. Thirdly, you disagree that weighing arguments for opinions implies the equal legitimacy of those opinions. Lastly, I will address your claim about the nature of interpreting the Bible.

A rule to keep in mind when evaluating a work for fallacies, is that a fallacy can only occur in the course of an argument or inference. The statement in the post by Paer is not an argument and contains no inferences, so there is no place for a fallacy to be committed in the course of expressing the statement. It does not commit a fallacy.

You do at least take steps to explain why you think there is a fallacy. You state that you “don't see that subjective opinion can be legitimately consistent with logic…”. I’m curious what you mean by “subjective opinion”, and why you think it is inconsistent with logic. Indeed, I’m curious what you mean by “logic”, here. Inconsistency, in the field of logic, describes a collection of statements that are not possibly all true, but are possibly all false. For instance—

1. The park contains five giraffes.
2. All giraffes are purple animals.
3. The park contains no more than two purple animals.

It is logically possible for each of these statements to be false. However, it is impossible for all three of these statements to be true at once. The first two statements imply that the park contains five purple animals; this is contradicted by the third statement, therefore not all three statements can be true at once. This is an example of inconsistency. “Logic” is not a statement, however. Due to that, its not entirely clear why you claim that logic is inconsistent with a subjective opinion.

Nonetheless, I will say a few words about the relationship between logic and subjective opinions. To be clear, logic is the rational evaluation of arguments. Since arguments can be given for and against the statement in the original post, as you agree, it would then be logic’s business to evaluate the goodness of those arguments. The conclusion of an argument can be any statements at all, from “Summer is the best season of the year” to “you interpreted that passage incorrectly” to “2 plus 2 equals 4.” Regardless of the contents of the premises or the conclusion of the argument—regardless of whether you think that the statements involved are opinions or not—the field of logic is relevant to an issue whenever arguments are being given. In this way, then, logic can be involved with the expression of subjective opinions, insomuch as arguments are given in support those opinions. You agree that arguments can be given in support of the claim made in the original post. Therefore, you should agree that logic is relevant to the issues raised in the original post, even if the statement in the conclusion is what you would call a subjective opinion.

Finally, you write  “I agree that two (or more) people can have differences of opinion and can argue them but it does not follow that those differences in opinion are all equally legitimate.”

I’m not sure what you mean by “equally legitimate.” Perhaps you are saying that just because you can argue for an opinion, it doesn’t follow that that opinion may really be true? Maybe it doesn’t follow or maybe it does follow. I myself haven’t claimed one way or the other, so I don’t see the relevance of your last claim. My position is that the authors of the Bible were trying to communicate a message. Just as we often do with books, we can gain an understanding of the messages being communicated in the Bible by analyzing the historical contexts, literary features, authors’ intents, and so forth. These aspects of a text are not learned through a hand-me-down flow of “just opinions”, but are brought to light through research, intense study, critical analysis, and debates between experts of fields related to understanding the passage—historians, biblical scholars, literary critics, translators, etc—all of which draw upon facts and systematic processes of investigation

In sum, the original post presents no fallacies. I would like a clarification of your notion of “logic” and “inconsistency”, because what you have written is not using these terms in a technical sense. I also ask for a clarification of the meaning of “equally legitimate” as well as a clarification of the relevance of your last statement to my post. Finally, understanding the Bible is a scholarly issue, dealing with facts and systems of reasoning about meanings.


Thank you,

From, Kaiden


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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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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 Mon, Mar 11, 2019 - 12:41 PM
No, just an opinion.
Bo Bennett, PhD
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Kaiden

Seasoned Vet

Print Mon, Mar 11, 2019 - 01:14 PM
Hi, Paer Toernell!

The statement does not commit a fallacy. A fallacy can only occur in the course of an argument or inference and a statement is neither of those.

The statement is, however, either true or false and there are fields of study dedicated to pursuing an understanding of Biblical passages. If this is a real conversation that you are having with someone, then don’t immediately walk away from each other just agreeing to disagree. Invite them to join you in conducting a biblical exegesis, and perhaps look into some systematic theology, in relation to whatever scripture or issue you are discussing. This will hopefully bring you two closer together and deepen both of your understandings and appreciations of the text.

Thank you, Paer.

From, Kaiden


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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.


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Print Mon, Mar 11, 2019 - 02:56 PM
The person is making a claim but is not giving an argument. The person needs to explain why your interpretation of the Bible is wrong.


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Kaiden

Seasoned Vet

Print Sun, Mar 17, 2019 - 02:10 PM
An anonymous person made the following remarks to my post:

“No statement is either true or false.  All depend to some degree on interpretation, which in turn depends on all manner of experiences and contexts, etc.”

What follows is my response to the anonymous person.


Hi!

You claim that no statement is either true or false. I assume you believe that your statement here is true, in which case, you contradict yourself. On the other hand, if the statement is false, then your position is wrong. You’re in a tight spot on this subject. This is not surprising, considering that one of the three very laws of thought declares that every statement is either true or false: the Law of the Excluded Middle. Allow me to explain some terminology that should shed light on the issue.

To be clear, a statement is not the same thing as a sentence. A statement (sometimes called a proposition) is the thought expressed by a complete, declarative sentence. For instance:

1. Carol is greedy.
2. Show me Carol and I’ll show you a greedy person.
3. There is a person who is both Carol and greedy.
4. Every person who is Carol is also greedy.

Those are four different sentences all expressing one single statement about an attribute of Carol. In this way, you can see how a statement differs from a sentence: the statement is the meaning of the sentence, not the sentence itself. Of course, many English words, indeed most, are ambiguous: can have more than one interpretation. Due to this, it is true that the same sentence can express different statements. For instance:

5. Carol is a pig.

This can mean, like the previous examples, that Carol is greedy. It could instead mean that Carol is a member of the Suinae taxonomic family. In your comment to my post, you write:

“All [truth-values of statements] depend to some degree on interpretation, which in turn depends on all manner of experiences and contexts, etc.”

Now, if no statement is either true or false, then its truth-value doesn’t depend on things like interpretation (because it has no truth value). So, is not entirely clear how the second part of your paragraph agrees with the first part.

Nonetheless, maybe I can make out what you are saying. Take the fifth sentence: Carol is a pig. Perhaps your point is that the word “pig” can have different meanings. If Carol is a greedy person, then sentence 5 is true if “pig” means greedy and sentence 5 is false if pig means “member of Suinae family”. So, the statement is only true or false depending on the interpretation and has no inherent truth-value. Perhaps that is an illustration of the position your comment is proposing.

I don’t mind agreeing that a sentence has no inherent truth-value. I claimed that every STATEMENT is either true or false. I reiterate that you must not confuse “statement” with “sentence”. Interpretation and context are required to fully grasp which statement is being expressed BY the sentence, but the statements themselves are either true or false. Sentence 5 may refer to the statement “Carol is greedy” or to the statement “Carol is a pink barn animal that goes ‘oink’”. We don’t know, without context, which of the two statement the sentence is referring to. Nonetheless, those two statements are either true or false of Carol. Carol is either a greedy person or is not a greedy person and Carol is either an animal pig or not an animal pig. Sentence 5 can express different statements about Carol, but each of those statements are either true or false of Carol.

In sum, your comments demonstrate a self-refutation if it claims to be true. Lastly, it rests upon a misconception of what a statement is. A single sentence may be open to expressing different statements, but each of those statements are either true or false, not neither and not both. That is also a principle of logic: the Law of the Excluded Middle.


Thank you,

From Kaiden


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