Logical fallacies: Pitfalls in arguments


Some people see ideological debates as a bad thing.  People who argue are bad people who are disrupting peace. If you want to be a good person just shut up and listen to what your superior says or what the majority believes. But this is not true. Debates and discussions are what help facilitate social progress. A complacent society where everyone agree on the status quo does nothing but stagnate.

Ideological debates are all good and fine but, that is only when the debate is progressing in a logical and rational manner. The biggest threat to this constructive disclosure is the set of wrong arguments known as logical fallacies.

Presence of logical fallacies weakens the logical soundness of the argument. The common signature of a logical fallacy is the fact that they focus on the results of the argument than the correctness of the logic. Thus they do not have any consideration on whether the argument that it is contributing to is correct or not. There are two types of logical fallacies; formal and informal [1].

A formal fallacy is occurred when there is a fault in the logical structure of the pattern of reasoning used. This can be detected using a standard logic system such as propositional logic [2].

An informal fallacy is occurred when the premise(s) that is stated in the argument does not support the implicitly or explicitly stated conclusion [3].

Thus in essence, a formal fallacy has a flaw in the form of the argument while the premise(s) are sound and an informal fallacy has a flaw(s) in the premise(s) while the form of the argument may be relevant and sound.

This means that an argument that has a formal fallacy is unequivocally false. On the other hand, an argument that has an informal fallacy is rationally unpersuasive.

In other words, if one can find a formal fallacy in one’s opponents’ arguments, one can safely declare the opponent’s whole basis of argument invalid. However, it one finds an informal fallacy in one’s opponents’ arguments, one can only safely declare that, that particular point which was raised by the opponent as invalid.

Given most debates are done between rational people, it is very rare for an individual to have a formal fallacy in one’s argument. But informal fallacies on the other hand is rampant in debates given that even most rational individuals tend to miss the informal fallacy in their own argument.

So I thought of creating a series of blog posts that teach you each of these interesting informal fallacies that you can point out in your opponents’ arguments to disarm them. Given below are the logical fallacies that I plan to cover on the blog. The ones that have already been written have active links.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fallacies
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_fallacy
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informal_fallacy


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