In academic writing, fallacies are frowned upon because they are ill-substantiated statements. Unlike incorrect information that can be easily corrected, logical fallacies involve flawed arguments where the premises have not been fully supported, leading to a weak and faulty conclusion.
Academic writing requires careful writing using a language that is logical—that is, free from bias and properly supported by solid facts and well-researched evidence. A knowledge of the common fallacies will help you avoid making flawed arguments.
The following list is neither complete nor an extensive philosophical discourse, but it will help you recognize the common errors in reasoning.
Literally, this fallacy means “to the person.” This is the equivalent of character assassination and attacks a person’s character instead of focusing on his/her performance.
Appeal to flattery
This argument uses compliments and praise (often insincere) to win the argument.
Appeal to force
Also called argumentum ad baculum, this argument uses force to win the argument.
Appeal to pity
This argument is also known as argumentum ad misericordiam capitalizes on the fact that people easily fall prey to their emotion and sentimentality. In the following example, the fundraisers could be unscrupulous con artists out to fool unsuspecting victims.
This fallacy appeals to one’s need to be part of the group, to be “in” and stems from the assumption that just because the majority approves of something, it must be good for the individual, too.
Begging the question
This fallacy uses circular argument—arguing without sufficiently explaining why the argument has to be accepted.
This fallacy offers only two alternatives and nothing else, leading to weak correlates.
This fallacy arises when a misleading correlation was drawn between two events, ending in a questionable conclusion.
This kind of fallacy happens when the debater uses ideas that have similarities but doesn’t consider that the analogy has been overextended, and no longer applies.
This fallacy uses an isolated experience as basis for a general statement.
This argument literally means “it doesn’t follow” and contains a weak conclusion from a set of premises.
This argument happens when the correlation between events is hastily concluded without sufficient reason or explanation and so much has been attributed to the conclusion being the result of the cause.
This fallacy is used by debaters when they try to distract their opponent away from the real issue and onto something irrelevant. It is also a common ploy committed by the government to veer the public’s attention away from more pressing concerns by focusing on something less pressing.
This erroneous argument happens out of fear that once an action has been taken, a series of actions (often negative) will happen as a result of the previous action.
When the debater caricaturizes or trivializes another person’s argument to refute it, the debater has committed the straw man fallacy.