Self Test on Fallacies



Identify the fallacies in the following passages and explain how each specific passage involves that fallacy or fallacies. Answers are below.

  1. It is necessary to confine criminals and to lock up dangerous lunatics. Therefore there is nothing wrong with depriving people of their liberties.

  2. How much longer are you going to waste your time in school when you might be doing a man's work in the world, and contributing to society? If you had any sense of social responsibility, you would leave immediately.

  3. The army is notoriously inefficient, so we cannot expect Major Smith to do an efficient job.

  4. God exists because the Bible tells us so, and we know that what the Bible tells us must be true because it is the revealed word of God.

  5. If you have to eat the same food all the time, you get bored. And if you have to listen to the same music all the time, you get bored. It's the same with sex. If you have to sleep with the same person all the time, you get bored. Well, nobody says you can't eat different food or listen to different music. In the same way, no one should say you can't have a different sex partner. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

  6. Congress shouldn't bother to consult the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff about the military appropriations. As members of the armed forces, they will naturally want as much money for military purposes as they think they can get.

  7. Mr. Brown: I will give no more money to your cause next year.

    Solicitor: That's all right, sir, we'll just put you down for the same amount that you gave this year.

  8. Narcotics are habit-forming. Therefore if you allow your physician to ease your pain with an opiate, you will become a hopeless drug addict.

  9. You can't prove that he was to blame for the misfortune, so it must actually have been someone else who was responsible.

  10. Cooks have been preparing food for generations, so our cook must be a real expert.

  11. More young people are attending high schools and colleges than ever before in the history of our nation. But there is more juvenile delinquency than ever before. This makes it clear that to eliminate delinquency among the youth we must abolish the schools.

  12. You say we ought to discuss our new car purchase. Which should we get, a Ford or a Chevy?

  13. Our nation is a democracy and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. We believe in equality of opportunity for everyone, so our colleges and universities should admit every applicant, regardless of his economic or educational background.

  14. We should reject Mr. Watkins' suggestions for increasing the efficiency of our colleges. As a manufacturer he cannot be expected to realize that our aim is to educate the youth, not to make a profit. His recommendations can have no value for us.

  15. The Bible says a good Christian should love his neighbor. Mr. Jones loves his neighbor Mrs. Smith. In fact, whenever Mrs. Jones is away, he goes over to Mrs. Smith's house and spends the night. So Mr. Jones is a good Christian.

  16. If we want to know whether a state is brave we must look at its army, not because the soldiers are the only brave people in the community, but because it is only through their conduct that the courage or cowardice of the community can be manifested.
    -- R. L. Nettleship, Lectures on the Republic of Plato

  17. My client is the sole support of his aged parents. If he is sent to prison, it will break their hearts, and they will be left homeless and penniless. You surely cannot find it in your hearts to reach any other verdict than "not guilty."

  18. There is no proof that the secretary "leaked" the news to the papers, so she can't have done it.

  19. Was it through stupidity or through deliberate dishonesty that the Administration has hopelessly botched its foreign policy? In either case, unless you are in favor of stupidity or dishonesty, you should vote against the incumbents.

  20. Since all men are mortal, the human race must some day come to an end.

  21. Criminals are like a cancer in the body of the state. And how do we deal with cancer? We kill it. Therefore, we shouldn't have any moral qualms killing criminals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Good Answers


HEY! Do the quiz before looking at the answers!

 

 

 

 

Other answers may be possible, but you must justify them.

  1. It is necessary to confine criminals and to lock up dangerous lunatics. Therefore there is nothing wrong with depriving people of their liberties.

    Converse Accident, or Hasty Generalization. The premise is obviously true, and it's the well-understood exception to the principle that people should have maximum individual liberty. The arguer takes the exceptional case and generalizes (hastily) from that.

  2. How much longer are you going to waste your time in school when you might be doing a man's work in the world, and contributing to society? If you had any sense of social responsibility, you would leave immediately.

    Complex question. The question assumes school is waste of time. If one answers the "how much longer" part, one acknowledges the "waste of time" part.

  3. The army is notoriously inefficient, so we cannot expect Major Smith to do an efficient job.

    Division. What's true of the Army isn't necessarily true of every member of the Army.

  4. God exists because the Bible tells us so, and we know that what the Bible tells us must be true because it is the revealed word of God.

    Circular Argument. God would have to exist in the first place if he revealed himself in the Bible, so the argument assumes its own conclusion.

  5. If you have to eat the same food all the time, you get bored. And if you have to listen to the same music all the time, you get bored. It's the same with sex. If you have to sleep with the same person all the time, you get bored. Well, nobody says you can't eat different food or listen to different music. In the same way, no one should say you can't have a different sex partner. Variety is the spice of life, after all.

    Dubious analogy. Maybe also fallacy of accident ("variety is the spice of life")? Or is this exactly what that maxim is supposed to apply to?

  6. Congress shouldn't bother to consult the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff about the military appropriations. As members of the armed forces, they will naturally want as much money for military purposes as they think they can get.

    Ad hominem circumstantial

  7. Mr. Brown: I will give no more money to your cause next year.

    Solicitor: That's all right, sir, we'll just put you down for the same amount that you gave this year.

    Mr. Brown's statement is an amphiboly.

  8. Narcotics are habit-forming. Therefore if you allow your physician to ease your pain with an opiate, you will become a hopeless drug addict.

    Accident. The maxim "Narcotics are habit-forming" has well-understood exceptions: e.g., when prescribed and monitored by a doctor.
    Also maybe slippery slope. Hopeless addiction (the worst-case scenario) is not an inevitable consequence.

  9. You can't prove that he was to blame for the misfortune, so it must actually have been someone else who was responsible.

    Appeal to ignorance

  10. Cooks have been preparing food for generations, so our cook must be a real expert.

    Division

  11. More young people are attending high schools and colleges than ever before in the history of our nation. But there is more juvenile delinquency than ever before. This makes it clear that to eliminate delinquency among the youth we must abolish the schools.

    Correlation fallacy

  12. You say we ought to discuss our new car purchase. Which should we get, a Ford or a Chevy?

    False dilemma. Arguer offers only two choices, when clearly there are other options.

  13. Our nation is a democracy and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. We believe in equality of opportunity for everyone, so our colleges and universities should admit every applicant, regardless of his economic or educational background.

    Accident. Arguer applies the principle of equality of opportunity to a case it never was intended to apply to.

  14. We should reject Mr. Watkins' suggestions for increasing the efficiency of our colleges. As a manufacturer he cannot be expected to realize that our aim is to educate the youth, not to make a profit. His recommendations can have no value for us.

    Ad hominem circumstantial

  15. The Bible says a good Christian should love his neighbor. Mr. Jones loves his neighbor Mrs. Smith. In fact, whenever Mrs. Jones is away, he goes over to Mrs. Smith's house and spends the night. So Mr. Jones is a good Christian.

    Accident. Also equivocation on "love your neighbor."

  16. If we want to know whether a state is brave we must look at its army, not because the soldiers are the only brave people in the community, but because it is only through their conduct that the courage or cowardice of the community can be manifested.
    -- R. L. Nettleship, Lectures on the Republic of Plato

    Composition. Arguer assumes that what's true of the part (the army) is true of the community as a whole.

  17. My client is the sole support of his aged parents. If he is sent to prison, it will break their hearts, and they will be left homeless and penniless. You surely cannot find it in your hearts to reach any other verdict than "not guilty."

    Appeal to pity

  18. There is no proof that the secretary "leaked" the news to the papers, so she can't have done it.

    Appeal to ignorance

  19. Was it through stupidity or through deliberate dishonesty that the Administration has hopelessly botched its foreign policy? In either case, unless you are in favor of stupidity or dishonesty, you should vote against the incumbents.

    False dilemma

  20. Since all men are mortal, the human race must some day come to an end.

    Composition. What's true of all individual people isn't necessarily true of humanity as a whole. We simply don't know whether humanity will go on.

  21. Criminals are like a cancer in the body of the state. And how do we deal with cancer? We kill it. Therefore, we shouldn't have any moral qualms killing criminals.

    Dubious analogy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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