Analyze Fallacious

Using these twelve fallacies:
Construct your very own example of each one. Explain why each of these fallacies you constructed is a bad argument.
Argument that appeals to a questionable authority
Argument that Appeals to Common Belief
Argument that Appeals to Common Practice
Argument that Appeals to Two Wrongs (two wrongs make a right)
Argument that Appeals to Indirect Consequences (Slippery Slope Argument with a very negative outcome)
Argument that Appeals to Wishful Thinking (Slippery Slope Argument with a very positive outcome)
Argument that Appeals to Fear (scare tactics):
Argument that Appeals to Loyalty (ad Populum/to the people)
Argument that Appeals to Pity (ad Misericordiam)
Argument that Appeals to Prejudice
Argument that Appeals to Spite (hatred or indignation)
Argument that Appeals to Vanity
I HAVE ATTACHED EXAMPLES OF EACH FALLACIES
App
ATTACHED FILE(S)
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HUMN 210
Module 5 Key Points
The Fallacious Appeals in this section do not make up an exhaustive list of the common mistakes of
reasoning found in everyday life.But you need to recognize such bad arguments to avoid being deceived.
And because your reasoning can be sharpened by identifying and analyzing common fallacious appeals,
you can prepare for future roles that demand for adaptive, knowledgeable professionals that can
understand more, and can avoid being duped.The common fallacious appeals that we will be primarily
concerned with are the Misdirected Appeals and Emotional Appeals.
Key Points
I. Misdirected Appeals:
1. Argument that appeals to a questionable authority
When we provide a statement made by a questionable authority figure in support of a conclusion, we
obtain an argument that appeals to a questionable authority.The general form of this argument is the
following.
Form:
1) X (a questionable authority on Z) says Y.
—————————————————-
2) Thus, Y.
A Substitution Instance of the above Form:
1) Michael Jordan (a questionable authority on electrical power sources) says Rayovac batteries are the
best batteries.
————————————————————————————————–
2) Thus, Rayovac batteries are the best batteries.
Why is an argument that appeals to a questionable authority a bad argument?By relying on a person that
is not authoritative on that specific subject, an appeal to a questionable authority does not provide
evidence for the conclusion being endorsed.We need good reasons, not an appeal to a recognized
authority on a matter outside the area of that authority’s expertise, to establish a claim.
Accordingly, an argument that appeals to a questionable authority is not a properly formed
argument from authority.As you may recall from Module 2 Overview, a properly formed argument from
authority cites its sources, provides informed sources, provides impartial sources, cross-checks its
sources, and does not disqualify competing sources using personal attacks.This means that one must
quote or mention the authorities (the source is cited) that are appealed to; that supposedly know what
they are talking about (the source is informed); and that are supposedly fair and objective (the source is
impartial).Moreover, one must cross-check sources.This means that one must make sure that the
statements (or generalizations) made by the authority turn out to be reliable by looking at other sources
for verification.
2. Argument that Appeals to Common Belief
Why is an argument that appeals to common belief a bad argument?By relying on what others believe (or
think), an appeal to common belief does not provide evidence for a conclusion that must be verified in
2

another manner.We need good reasons, not an often unsupported, exaggerated, or vague appeal to
popular opinion, to establish a conclusion.The general form of this argument is the following.
Form:

1) It is a common belief (or thought) that Y.
—————————————————–
2) Thus, Y.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) It is a common belief (or thought) that public urination is illegal.
——————————————————————————–
2) Thus, public urination is illegal.

3. Argument that Appeals to Common Practice
Why is an argument that appeals to common practice a bad argument?By relying on what others are
doing, an appeal to common practice does not provide evidence for the conclusion that it is acceptable for
someone to do something.We need good reasons, not an often unsupported, exaggerated, or vague
appeal to what everyone is doing, to establish a conclusion.The general form of this argument is the
following.
Form:

1) It is common practice for people to do Y.
—————————————————-
2) Thus, it is acceptable for X to do Y.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) It is common practice for people to cheat on the take-home exam.
———————————————————————————
2) Thus, it is acceptable for me to cheat on the take-home exam.

4. Argument that Appeals to Two Wrongs (two wrongs make a right)
Why is an argument that appeals to two wrongs a bad argument?By relying on the bad things others are
doing, evidence is not provided for the conclusion that it is acceptable to do something that supposedly is
just as bad.We need good reasons, not an often unsupported, exaggerated, or theoretical appeal to the
bad things everyone is doing, to establish a conclusion.The general form of this argument is the
following.
General Form:

1) Other people (or organizations) are doing other things just as bad as Y.
—————————————————————————————–
2) Thus, it is acceptable for y to do (or engage in) X.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) Other companies are doing other things just as bad as Enron.
3

———————————————————————————————
2) Thus, it is acceptable for Enron to engage in willful corporate fraud and corruption.
5. Argument that Appeals to Indirect Consequences (Slippery Slope Argument with a very
negative outcome)
Why is an argument that appeals to indirect consequences a bad argument?By relying on a series of
questionable possible actions with tenuous connections (i.e., a slippery slope), the evidence provided by
an argument that appeals to indirect consequences does not establish the conclusion that an outcome that
is remotely possible, and usually very negative, will automatically support an action or belief.The general
form of this argument is the following.
General Form:

1) X should do (or believe) Y, since possible action1; since possible action 1 will lead to possible action 2;
since possible action 2 will lead to possible action 3;… since possible action n–1 will lead to possible
action n; since, finally, possible action n, will lead to some possible very negative outcome(s).
————————————————————————————
2) Thus, X should do (or believe) Y, since some remotely possible and usually very negative outcome(s)
will happen.
To put it briefly, the conclusion (line #2) may expose the real problem behind the above argument.Given
the premise indicator since and the conclusion indicator Thus on line #2, we may put the since part
first and draw the new conclusion at the end in a separate argument as follows.
1) Some remotely possible and usually very negative outcome(s) will happen.
———————————————————————————————-
2) Thus, X should do (or believe) Y.
A Substitution Instance of the above General Form:

1) Karen should quit smoking, since she will be unable to overcome her addiction; since her addiction will
lead to a personality disorder; since her personality disorder will lead her to succumb to pressure; since
succumbing to pressure will lead her to lose her job; since losing her job will lead to losing her personal
relationships; since, finally, losing her personal relationships will lead to her ending up broke, unhappy,
and alone.
———————————————————————————————
2) Thus, Karen should quit smoking, since she will end up broke, unhappy, and alone.
To put it briefly, the conclusion (line #2) may expose the real problem behind the above argument. Given
the premise indicator since and the conclusion indicator Thus on line #2, we may put the since part
first and draw the new conclusion at the end in a separate argument as follows.

1) Karen will end up broke, unhappy, and alone.
———————————————————-
2) Thus, Karen should quit smoking.

6. Argument that Appeals to Wishful Thinking (Slippery Slope Argument with a very
positive outcome)
Why is an argument that appeals to wishful thinking a bad argument?By relying on a series of
questionable possible actions with tenuous connections (i.e., a slippery slope), the evidence provided by
an argument that appeals to wishful thinking does not establish the conclusion that an outcome that is
4

remotely possible, and usually very positive, will automatically establish an action or belief.The general
form of this argument is the following.
General Form:

1) X should do (or believe) Y, since possible action 1; since possible action 1 will lead to possible action 2;
since possible action 2 will lead to possible action 3;… since possible action n–1 will lead to possible
action n; since, finally, possible action n, will lead to some possible very positive outcome(s).
————————————————————————————-
2) Thus, X should do (or believe) Y, since some remotely possible and usually very positive outcome(s)
will happen.

To put it briefly, the conclusion (line #2) may expose the real problem behind the above argument.Given
the premise indicator since and the conclusion indicator Thus on line #2, we may put the since part
first and draw the new conclusion at the end in a separate argument as follows.

1) Some remotely possible and usually very positive outcome(s) will happen.
———————————————————————————————
2) Thus, X should do (or believe) Y.

A Substitution Instance of the above General Form:

1) The city should reject building the stadium, since the money could be better spent improving public
transportation and education; since money spent improving public transportation and education will lead
to attracting more businesses; since attracting more businesses will lead to lower unemployment and
lower taxes; since, finally, lower unemployment and lower taxes will lead to prosperity for all.
——————————————————————————
2) Thus, the city should reject building the stadium, since there will be prosperity for all.

To put it briefly, the conclusion (line #2) may expose the real problem behind the above argument.Given
the premise indicator since and the conclusion indicator Thus on line #2, we may put the since part
first and draw the new conclusion at the end in a separate argument as follows.

1) There will be prosperity for all.
————————————————————-
2) Thus, the city should reject building the stadium.
II. Emotional Appeals:
1. Argument that Appeals to Fear (scare tactics):
Why is an argument that appeals to fear a bad argument?By relying on emotions, an appeal to fear does
not provide evidence for the conclusion that one should do something.We need good reasons, not
emotion, to establish a claim.The general form of this argument is the following.
Form:

1) X is afraid of Y.
—————————–
2) Thus, X should do Z.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) Kevin is afraid of getting a beating.
————————————————————
2) Thus, Kevin should do what a bully commands.
5

2. Argument that Appeals to Loyalty (ad Populum/to the people)
Why is an argument that appeals to loyalty a bad argument?By relying on emotions, an appeal to loyalty
(to go along with the crowd or a defined group) does not provide evidence for the conclusion that one
should line up with (or exhibit some characteristic of) some group of people.We need good reasons, not
emotion, to establish a claim.The general form of this argument is the following.
Form:

1) X feels loyalty for a defined group Y.
2) Y (it is alleged by X) should do (or exhibit characteristic) Z.
——————————————————————————–
3) Thus, X (and anyone else that may be tapped into feeling the same loyalty) should line up (i.e., “Stick
together,” be subject to “peer pressure,” and/or “get on the bandwagon”) with Y and do (or exhibit
characteristic) Z.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) Police officer Bill feels loyalty for policemen/policewomen.
2) Policemen/policewomen (it is alleged by police officer Bill) should not give out tickets to other fellow
police officers.
———————————————————————————————
3) Thus, police officer Bill (and anyone else that may be tapped into feeling the same loyalty) should line
up (i.e., “Stick together,” be subject to “peer pressure,” and/or “get on the bandwagon”) with
policemen/policewomen and not give out tickets to other fellow police officers.

3. Argument that Appeals to Pity (ad Misericordiam)
Why is an argument that appeals to pity a bad argument?By relying on emotions, an appeal to pity (or
sympathy) does not provide evidence for the conclusion that one should do what someone else wishes.
We need good reasons, not emotion, to establish a claim.The general form of this argument is the
following.
Form:

1) X feels pity (or sympathy) for Y.
2) Y wishes Z.
———————————————-
3) Thus, X should do what Y wishes.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) The teacher feels pity (or sympathy) for the student (e.g., the student works two jobs and is always
tired).
2) The student wishes to postpone the exam.
—————————————————————————————-
3) Thus, the teacher should do what the student wishes.

6

4. Argument that Appeals to Prejudice
Why is an argument that appeals to prejudice a bad argument?By relying on a prejudice in the listener,
an appeal to prejudice does not provide evidence for a conclusion that seeks to ensure a favorable
reaction.We need good reasons, not (positive or negative) judgment of groups of people (where the facts
of the case may indicate otherwise) to establish a claim.The general form of this argument is the
following.
Form:

1) X appeals to a prejudice Y in listener Z.
2) X seeks to ensure a favorable reaction W from listener Z.
————————————————————————
3) Thus, listener Z has a favorable reaction W.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) John tells his boss that foreigners have ruined the American economy and put many Americans out of
work.
2) John wants his boss to fire an ethnic minority.
——————————————————————————————–
3) Thus, his boss fires an ethnic minority.

5. Argument that Appeals to Spite (hatred or indignation)
Why is an argument that appeals to spite a bad argument?By relying on emotions, an appeal to spite
(hatred or indignation) does not provide evidence for the conclusion that one should do what someone
else wishes.We need good reasons, not emotion, to establish a claim.The general form of this argument
is the following.
Form:

1) X feels spite (hatred or indignation) for Z.
2) Y may be tapped into feeling the same spite (hatred or indignation) for Z.
——————————————————————————————
3) Thus, Y should do what X wishes.

A Substitution Instance of the above Form:

1) Kevin feels spite (hatred or indignation) for undocumented workers.
2) James may be tapped into feeling the same spite (hatred or indignation) for undocumented workers.
——————————————————————————————-
3) Thus, James should do what Kevin wishes (e.g., to launch a campaign of violence against
undocumented workers).

6. Argument that Appeals to Vanity
Why is an argument that appeals to vanity a bad argument?By relying on emotions, an appeal to vanity
(also known as apple-polishing) does not provide evidence for the conclusion that one should do what
someone else wishes.We need good reasons, not emotion, to establish a claim.The general form of this
argument is the following.

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Form:
1) X creates a predisposition toward agreement by paying a subtle compliment C that is related to the
issue at hand and appeals to the vanity of Y.
2) X wishes to avoid Z.
—————————————————————————————–
3) Thus, Y (if vain enough) should do what X wishes.
A Substitution Instance of the above Form:
1) The student praised his teacher as the best teacher he has ever had for finding so many grammatical
errors in his final exam.
2) The student wishes to avoid failing the course.
———————————————————————————————
3) Thus, the teacher (if vain enough) should do what the student wishes (i.e., not fail the student).
HUMN210 Module 5 Overview.docx/March 9, 2016/Dr. Talavera

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