Fallacious Argument




In the Sunday edition of  the San Jose Mercury News [SAL1] there was a letter to  the editor.  It was from a man located[SAL2]  in Pacific Grove,[SAL3]  his name was Arnold Wolf[SAL4] .  His letter was titled [SAL5] “President Bush keeps his promise.”    The premises of this argument were as follows,[SAL6]  since President Bush has been in office there has been a serious chilling of the United States [SAL7] relations with France and Germany, [SAL8] also we have received war like [SAL9] gestures from Northern Korea.    The conclusion of this argument was that President Bush has kept his promise to unite, that is [SAL10] to unite the rest of the world against the United States.


This argument is clearly fallacious as it falls under two of the five fallacies of relevance descriptions.[SAL11]   It is an argument that is based its ability to appeal to general belief as well as its ability to appeal to popular attitudes and emotions.   [SAL12] It is clear as the writer,[SAL13]  Mr. Wolf, states in his grabbing [SAL14] opening statement[SAL15]  “as a candidate, George W. Bush told us that he was a uniter, not a divider.”  He proceeds to give a popular opinion, that  since President Bush has been in office relations [SAL16] with several countries have been compromised.  He provides a general belief as he states, [SAL17] “sharply increased divisions within our own population; weakening of the U.N. and Nato; and an unprecedented worldwide outpouring of hatred toward the United States.”  This leads to a conclusion that is not supported by factual premises and are not relevant [SAL18] to the conclusion.    A claim cannot be correct just because people may believe it so.  It cannot be correct  just because of popular attitudes or emotions.  For these reasons, this argument is considered [SAL19] fallacious[SAL20] .


 [SAL1] Quote or italicize titles

 [SAL2] 10 wordy -- cut “located”

 [SAL3] 13 comma splice

 [SAL4] The whole thing so far could be one tight sentence: “The San Jose Mercury News on Sunday contained a letter to the editor from a man named Arnold Wolf of Pacific Grove.”

 [SAL5] 22 passive voice is wordy and obscures agency – who gave the letter this title? Arnold Wolf? The newspaper?

 [SAL6] 13 colon

 [SAL7] 2 This is possessive, so you need an apostrophe

 [SAL8] 13

 [SAL9] 6 war-like

 [SAL10] 13 “unite: that is,”

 [SAL11] 32 “This argument commits two fallacies of relevance” – isn’t that all you’re saying?

 [SAL12] 10  wordy wordy wordy

 [SAL13] 12

 [SAL14] 21

 [SAL15] 10 you just said “states”

 [SAL16] 13

 [SAL17] 32

 [SAL18] 3

 [SAL19] 22

 [SAL20]The argument as you present it in the first paragraph has true premises, doesn’t it?  I mean, clearly other countries are mad at the US and clearly N. Korea has been doing threatening things.  These are “general beliefs”, but not all general beliefs are false and there’s no fallacy in appealing to TRUE general beliefs.  I believe that WVC is in Saratoga, and that’s a pretty general belief in our area, and it’s TRUE.   That’s why it’s generally believed.  The fallacy of appeal to general belief happens when the general belief is NOT well-supported: e.g., lots of people believe in magic, alien abductions, etc.   But in this case the premises seem very well-supported.  


Furthermore, you claim the argument appeals to popular attitudes.  The author is anti-Bush, correct?  The prevalent attitude right now is something like 70% pro-Bush.  So the attitude he’s appealing to is in fact NOT the most popular one – it’s the minority view.


Do you understand how your analysis is problematic?


I need to remind you again about technical errors, especially punctuation.  You have ten tech errors in only two paragraphs here.  If you make technical errors at this rate on your term paper or on MT 3, you will fail on account of tech errors alone, no matter how good your arguments may be.  I say this without meaning any disrespect to you personally; I know you believe yourself to be a hard-working and conscientious student. I’m just telling you the truth.  You need to go to the Web sites on sentence structure, read the explanations, and do the exercises!  I’m sure you can get this.


Content:  13