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Fallacious Arguments- Six types of Formal Fallacy

Updated on July 13, 2012
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The Power Behind Words

As writers we naturally know words and what they are capable of. We know how to paint a picture with letters rather than colors, as we know the importance of detail as well as the power of vague open ended perceptions. This is why we are so commonly called, ‘Wordsmith’. We have the power to control manipulate and change the way others perceive situations, and feel about the world by simply writing words in a particular manner that applies to our audience in some way, shape or form. Words trigger our subconscious, our ideas, our emotions and situations-it is not a word itself that matters or harms, after all- it is just a configuration of letters and symbols. The powers of words is not the words, it what the Meaning of a word means to you.

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What are fallacious arguments?

Words with an emotional trigger are described often as fallacious arguments for their misleading and extremely deceptive purpose. Knowing these triggers, prepares us, and allows us to disarm the word (meaning-if we know the purpose for which they are spoken; they will lose some of their effectiveness on us). None the less, words are extremely important, not only to know, but to use and to identify as to what they mean and what their purpose is.

Knowing how powerful words are is important to each and every one of us for one reason, to keep from having words manipulated and used against you. Words should be thought of as tools. One can use them for good as well as evil. A person’s ability to use words can give them the tools to manipulate a person into achieving exactly what they wish to achieve, which leads me directly back to my fallacious arguments. Fallacious arguments are words that appear logical, but are not- they are words with intent to deceive, to convince and to manipulate you into doing or agreeing to something that may have not been what you wanted. Fallacious arguments are always intended for someone else’s benefit and gain, not yours.

There are many different types of fallacious arguments, some of which are called Formal Fallacy. There are 6 types of Formal Fallacy; Appeal to Probability, Argument from Fallacy, Base Rate Fallacy, Conjunction Fallacy, Fallacy of necessity and the Masked Man Fallacy.

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Types of Formal Fallacy

A formal fallacy is defined as an error in logical thinking. Basically a Formal Fallacy is a statement with a conclusion which is not supported by its premises.Appeal to probability, can be described as saying, because it can happen, it will happen. An example of this is, if you do not take vitamins, you will get sick.

Argument from Fallacy applies to the assumption that if an argument for one conclusion is fallacious then the conclusion within itself is false. This is like saying; a fish lives in the water, so everything that lives in the water is a fish.

Base rate fallacy is an error that occurs when the conditional probability of some hypothesis has been given some evidence, is assessed without taking into account the prior probability of the hypothesis and the total probability. Within this fallacy, the error is in the math and the logic.

Conjunction fallacy is a logical fallacy for when it is assumed that a specific condition or conditions are more probable than a general condition, when two different factors are combined in a logical but unassailable manner. A fallacy such as this is equivalent to saying. When Sara was growing up she won the National Spelling Bee and enjoyed swimming. When Sara was an adult she was a spelling tutor and taught her students to swim vs. saying that Sara grew up to be a Spelling Tutor.

Utilize the Power within Words- Recognize and Control Conversations and Motives


Fallacy of necessity is a fallacy in the logic of a syllogism whereby a degree of unwarranted necessity is placed in the conclusion. An example of Fallacy of necessity is saying that, Men cannot have children. Tom is a man. Tom will never have children.

Masked man fallacy is a in which substitution of identical designators in a true statement can lead to an untrue conclusion. This is like saying; his name is Tom, but I do not know his friends name. His friends name is not Tom.

Knowing the power of words, not only makes you more adapt to foresee when someone is not being straight forward, and not in for your best interest, but allows you the power to combat the manipulation. With the knowledge you can control conversations, and address situations as they occur. Allow your knowledge of words; provide knowledge of people and of the world.

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great hub Holly! You would think being a former teacher I would have heard of all of these but nope, not the case. You did a great job of teaching me, and because of that I'll remember the lesson.

      Have a great weekend my friend!

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 4 years ago from New York City

      This hub is pretty intense, and written with highly technical writing aptitude, wow H.C.

      Are you a lawyer or something of the sorts, because the power in your understanding of words is quite profound, judging by the information you've published here. It is very useful, and I've heard of the fallacy term, but not in the specific context in which you've defined here, and in its multiple unique differences as well.

      So you taught me a great deal of useful info I never heard of nor learned any where else, bravo H.C. spectacular job! on the in depth details in this hub.

      Voted up and you know the rest.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Holly,

      Thanks for this very insightful article! I knew some of the fallacies but some of them I had no clue about. Thanks for sharing this article with us!

      Have a great day Holly!

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 4 years ago

      As Shakespeare put it: "Words without thoughts never to heaven go."

      I learned a lesson form this hub, too; voted up!

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Very interesting H.C. I had not heard this before. I learned a lot from this article, thank you.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 4 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I agree this hub is very interesting and useful.. I learned a lot from it.. thank you.. sharing

      Debbie

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this thought provoking hub Holly. I learned a lot here. Voted up and shared. Kelley

    • cabmgmnt profile image

      Corey 4 years ago from Northfield, MA

      Thanks for this hub. Very useful and interesting. I was not familiar with any of these terms.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Deep within the limits of our own fallacy as Authors. You pointed out a powerful meaning among our logical strategy that at times, we as writers, take it for granted. Thanks for sharing!

    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

      I appreciate this Hub so very much -- you certainly teach/write well and have definitely broadened my horizons. Best/Sis

    • sligobay profile image

      sligobay 4 years ago from east of the equator

      Thanks for the detailed lesson though I do not feel that I could explain it to anyone. There is a lot of mathematics behind logic.

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 4 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Hi Holly!

      Long time, etc! ;) This Hub is beautifully written and gives beautifully thought-out examples of logical fallacies. I just had to pull out my logic book from, Lord, 1980, and see how old-school terms differ from those of today.

      Good God, woman-you've stumped this old lady! What we (back then) called Rule 6 was called an Existential Fallacy like-

      P.1: All household pets are domestic animals.

      P. 2: No unicorns are domestic animals.

      C: Some unicorns are not household pets.

      Trippy, yes?

      Or-

      Rule 3 was called the Illicit Major-

      P.1: All dogs are mammals.

      P.2: No cats are dogs.

      C: No cats are mammals.

      There's Illicit Minor, too.

      I'm stumped because the language-your specialty-is so different. But fallacies are fallacies, no matter what you call them! ;)

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 4 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      What a very cool hub, Holly! Fantastic! And anyone studying law or rights-related areas like worker or union or settlement management will find this very satisfying and informative!

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      billybuc- thanks for the comment. I am glad that I could teach a great teacher something... :)

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      CoudExplorer- LOL, no, I am not a lawyer or anything of the sorts. I write SEO websites, and manage companies SMM for a living. I have a bit of an obsession with self education and words... I have realized that the more we know, the more power we have and in my case the better I am at doing my job. I am glad that you liked the hub :)

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      Thanks Josh! I am am so pleased that I was able to educate some of the best writers I know on Hubpages. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting! You have yourself a fantastic week sir!

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      vox vocis- Thank you for the comment and vote up! I appreciate it so very much!

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      Curiad- Thank you for reading and I am glad I was able to share something new and useful with y'all.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 4 years ago from Texas

      With so many internet trolls out there, this should be required reading for everyone. Great stuff!

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      Deb- thank you ma'am. I am glad that I could pull some interest on this topic. I was a little nervous for a moment :)

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      Thanks Kelley! I am glad that I could teach a little something different to everyone.

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      cabmgmnt- GREAT! Now you can say that you are :) Thanks for stopping by and for commenting

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      lord de cross, No problem. I typically like writing such hubs, and it is always a pleasure when others find that they are of benefit to them in some way or another. Thanks for reading and for commenting

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      Angela, thank you for the comment and for the compliment. I am glad that you think so :)

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      sligobay- you would be surprised what you could explain. I usually try to relate to each different fallacy, and if I can make a connection between one and my personal experiences, the lesson becomes much clearer. Thanks for stopping by and reading :)

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      HI LORLIE6! Long time no see, girl friend! I am glad that you stopped by and read this and decided to comment. Thanks for your point of view. :)

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      cheeky girl- you are very welcome. although I am not sure i am qualified to teach anything to law students, I do appreciate your comment. Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

    • H.C Porter profile image
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      Holly 4 years ago from Lone Star State

      GoForTheJuggler- Thanks for the comment. I would love for more to read this one...maybe then I would see my views rise again, lol :)

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