Today we will look at logical fallacies. A fallacy is simply an error in thinking. Certain errors are so common they have been classified and named. These are the sorts of fallacies we are dealing with here.
There are two primary categories of fallacies: formal and informal. Formal fallacies have to do with the logical structure of an argument. If the logical structure is incorrect, then the argument has committed a fallacy. Informal fallacies have to do with errors of thinking that happen apart from the structure of an argument. These could include such things as appeals to emotions, personal character attacks, and ambiguous language.
When it comes to informal logic, the tendency for the beginner is to gravitate immediately to the fallacies. Immediate benefit can be gained by understanding where thinking may have gone wrong. However, the student of logic is encouraged to be careful not to label every apparent fallacy they can find. This is not only in many cases impolite, it is not very productive. Recognizing fallacies is only the first step. But bringing proper thinking and clarity to an issue can be the real challange. Every case has its own particular elements, so more information is always helpful to determine the strengths and weaknesses of arguments.
Ideally, when a fallacy is recognized it can be corrected without a sort of “gotcha” attitude. The principle of charity and a gracious manner are essential in seeking common understanding, rather than simply becoming a fallacy-finder.
Because the fallacies cover such a broad range, they are beyond the scope of one post. In addition, many excellent resources can be found on the web for studying the fallacies. Although many good resources are found in print, good audio resources are few. That is why we have provided here an audio podcastadaptation of Stephen’s Guide to Logical Fallacies, one of the well-known fallacy sites on the web. Permission has been granted by logician Stephen Downes. The purpose of the podcast is to introduce and summarize the fallacies and provide examples and solutions to the errors.
You can find the Apologetics 315’s Logical Fallacies podcast on iTunes here. Or use the RSS feed found here. The Logical Fallacies 2nd Edition podcast can be found here.
Stephen’s Guide to Logical Fallacies is found here, with a nice mirror-site with additional content added by Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland at the Illogic Primer here.
The Nizkor Project 42 Fallacies is here.
Audio by Michael Ramsden on Logic and Fallacies can be found here.
– Nonsense by Robert Gula
– Informal Logic by Douglas Walton
Want to learn the ins and outs of logic and critical thinking? Want to be a more discerning thinker when defending the faith? Consider taking the Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking Course (part 2) at the Online Apologetics Academy. Taught by Brian Auten of Apologetics 315, this four-week course will be working through Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide (3rd Edition) by Bowell & Kemp. There will be weekly assignments, and weekly audio lectures discussing the application of the content to Christian apologetics. Part 1 of the course is helpful, but not required for enrolling in part 2 of the course. This course will give you a solid grasp of the foundations of critical thinking, the use and evaluation of arguments, and how these apply to the task of apologetics.
Interested? Go to the Online Apologetics Academy for more.
Questions welcome below.