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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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Richard

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Richard


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About Richard

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Sat, Mar 02, 2019 - 09:47 AM

Is this reasoning fallicious or faulty?

In a single vehicle work accident, the investigations team from the employer attributed the main cause for the accident to be operator error because they found the vehicle "to be in good working condition before and after the accident". The weather was fine and there was no DUI or willful act on the part of the operator.

Is it right to come to that conclusion?



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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 Sat, Mar 02, 2019 - 10:03 AM
I think to best answer this, one would have to have some specialized knowledge of automobile accidents. Having said that, I would think that to create a proper dichotomy, there is the operator, and everything else. If you can eliminate the probability of "everything else" then the operator is all that is left.* It appears that in the above example, "everything else" is limited to the working condition of the vehicle and the weather. But what about other drivers, animals, faulty traffic signs, natural or man-made obstacles in the road, etc.? From the description above, I would say the conclusion reached was premature (hasty generalization).

* This is one of ideas of Sherlock Holmes, which is also problematic. In short, it is generally impossible to eliminate "everything else" because we cannot know what everything else is. But that is why I said that an expert in the field of investigating accidents would best know what to look for and because the scope of "everything else" is limited in practice (i.e., we can reasonable rule out demonic possession of the operator, etc.).
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Richard
Monday, March 04, 2019 - 09:59:09 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thanks for your reply. My question above is primarily on whether it is logically right to make the assumption to rule out the vehicle (equipment) as a contributory cause for the accident. My take is that the view that "if the vehicle is in good condition before and after an accident, then it is in good condition at the time of the accident, and thus not contributory to the accident" does not stand to proper logical reasoning. But, why? Appreciate your take of it.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Tuesday, March 05, 2019 - 06:31:31 AM
So your concern is not with the fact that it was ruled an operator error, just that the vehicle malfunction was ruled out because of the car being in good condition before and after. This really does require expert knowledge in the area of automobile mechanics and accidents. If it has been demonstrated, say that in 98% of similar cases that if the vehicle is in good condition before and after an accident then it is in good condition at the time of the accident it is not contributory to the accident, then we can alt least conclude this with 98% confidence. My only problem with the claim that is being made is that it suggesting that there is a 0% chance of vehicle malfunction, which is never the case. The confidence level appears far off to me.

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