When it comes to completing writing assignments, regardless of the discipline that you deal with, there is always a risk of facing different kinds of errors that make it harder to present your arguments at an appropriate level. The main requirement to your arguments that you are expected to present in your research paper (or any other kind of paper) is that it has to be logic and reasonable. Logical fallacies, however, can spoil your arguments if you are not attentive enough to prevent their occurrence. They can appear in the form of irrelevant viewpoints or in the form of illegitimate arguments and even though you may not identify them when writing your paper or when checking it, they may be identified by your professor or other potential readers. Therefore, in order to make your paper successful and impressive in the good meaning of the word, you need to be able to identify logical fallacies, avoid their occurrence and even find them in the arguments of papers of others. In this article, you will learn how to do that and also, you will get familiar with the list of different logical errors usually committed so you can be fully aware of what kinds of logical fallacies exist and how to identify them.
Before you actually proceed to discovering the logical fallacies list that are often committed by unexperienced authors, it is important that you know and understand the meaning of a logical fallacy, that you are aware of it's common definition. Therefore, let us look more precisely at this term and find out what you are going to deal with when building your argument.
When talking of a logical fallacy, one should mean a particular error that arises in a piece of writing, spoils the logic of the argument provided in the writing and prevents your argument from being presented in a logical, reasonable manner. At the same time, this common error does not prevent your target audience and you personally from swaying your minds. As a matter of fact, such phenomenon as a logical fallacy usually originates within the intuition of a person. It's commonly faced specificity is that in the process of researching the topic of your paper it can lead you the wrong way, so that you may appear to be completely wrong concerning facts that really exist. If this happens, the opinion that you present in your argument can be formed illogically and grounded on something that has nothing to do with reality. More than that, it may even create a situation, where you just say something completely silly, something that can spoil all the work that you have done while researching the topic.
The role of practice in building an argument
It is a widely known fact that practice makes perfect. It really does, no matter what area of activity we are talking about. Building a strong argument in a logical, coherent and reasonable manner is something that cannot be done perfectly from the first time when you try academic writing. There are a lot of tricks that you can learn only within the process and the usage of which requires a lot of working. Building a good argument is a matter of developing and improving not only your writing skills, but also your analyzing skills, researching and many other skills.
In most of cases, such errors as logical fallacy happen to those authors, who have not very much experience in the field of scientific research and academic paper writing. For those who have enough of related experience behind their shoulders it is much easier to prevent the occurrence of logical fallacies, and in case if they occur anyway, it is easier for experienced writers and researchers to identify dangerous situations related to the logical fallacies, and when they identify these common errors, it is much easier for them to remove them from their arguments. Experienced writers and researchers know the list of logical fallacies and are familiar with the specificities of every kind of logical fallacy. In addition, their practice in the area of scientific research and academic writing serves as a good means to improve their capability to prevent errors in building an argument. While experience is a matter of time and you will get it within the process of your studying and academic career, the knowledge of essentials in this regard, including the logical fallacies list is something that you can cope with right away. Therefore, keep reading attentively.
The list of logical fallacies
Below we provided the logical fallacies list, although keep in mind that it is not the complete list of all existing logical fallacies that you may face. The list provides the most commonly known and committed kinds of fallacies and the kinds that are not provided here are those that you can hardly meet during you academic career. In any case, read carefully the following information, as long as it may appear to be very useful for you in the future.
- The argument of antiquity (also called the argument of tradition). This kind of argument is often used by those who tend to think the way it has always been thought. This is the most common and popular error because it refers to the traditional approach whatever it may concern. This argument prevents from discovering new horizons in researching that or another issue, it sets borders which are dangerous for those who wants to find the truth.
- The argument pointed at a certain person. This kind of error is usually directed at some person who has already expressed his opinion in regard to particular issue. It distracts from what is really worthy to be researched and discussed and points at the opinion of another person. Basically, this error is usually committed by those who don't really know their topic deep enough and look for a trick in order to distract the attention of the reader from the real topic. The writer may not even be aware that he commits such a mistake, but it doesn't make him less responsible for it.
- The argument to ignorance. This kind of logical fallacy is also very popular. It is used in order to assume that some phenomenon is true only because nobody has ever proved wrong in regard to it. For instance, somebody may argue that there is going to be the third world war only because nobody has proved that it is not going to happen. In fact, this error often occurs in the arguments of those, who have lack of knowledge concerning that or another issue.
- The argument appealing to a pity. This kind of an argument has much to do with emotions. As a rule, those who commit this kind of an error appeal to human emotions, they try to provoke regret, pity, anger or any other type of emotion in order to attract the attention of target audience. They use impressive statements that not always are true, but that make the reader feel strong emotions and by means of this, the author tries to convince the reader in his rightness.
- The argument to the logic. This is an error that occurs when the author supposes that that or another statement (argument, phenomenon, etc.) is false for the reason that the person who argued that it was true provided not enough of proofs or because the provided proofs seem invalid to the author. In this case it turns out that the author doesn't build his own argument but only demonstrates his opposition to the argument of another author.
- The argument provided by means of repetition appealing to the point of disgust. This kind of an argument is usually used with the purpose of proving the rightness of that or another statement by means of repetition. The author is saying the same thing again and again without actually supporting his arguments with proofs or some relevant evidences. The error is very tricky because it never helps convince the reader, since no matter how many times you repeat the lies, it will never become the truth.
- The argument appealing to the numbers. This kind of logical fallacy is committed by those who prefer proving that or another statement by means of demonstration how many people tend to believe in its rightness. The point is that the number of people who think that or another way doesn't prove anything. There can be millions of people who think that killing animals for fun is good, but does it really make killing animals for fun a good thing to do? In addition, the statistics can also be wrong sometimes, because all statisticians are ordinary people who commit mistakes.
- The arguments appealing to the authority. This is a common error committed by those authors who don't have their own opinion in regard to that or another issue and use the opinion of a famous person (celebrity, politician, scientist and so on) in order to prove the rightness of his argument, even though he may not have any argument at all, just retelling of someone else'e opinion. The author uses various impressive citations that don't belong to him, but to another person and just repeats what has already been said.
- The arguments appealing to people (public). This is a logical fallacy occurring in such cases when the author attempts to show the rightness of that or another statement by means of demonstrating that the public is of the same opinion, that the public agrees with what he is saying. This kind of logical fallacy is very similar to the argument appealing to the numbers, and in both cases it is impossible to prove the point in such a way. Numbers don't prove anything, they can be false as much as words can be false.
- The circular arguments. These errors can often be seen when the author uses the very statement as a prove supporting the same statement. In fact, he doesn't provide any new information but just manipulates the statement. This kind of argument is very popular during debates between politicians, especially when they don't have much to say in order to support themselves, so they turn to the last method of argumentation, where no new information is needed.
- The argument in a form of a complex question. When talking of a complex question, one should mean a question the author of which tries to prove the rightness or truth of something by the very construction of the question. For instance, when someone says «Have you stopped eating fast food?» he tries to make an emphasis on that eating fast food is bad by just asking whether you have stopped doing this or not. This is a provoking question that doesn't provide any evidence and somehow appeals to the emotional state of the audience just like the argument appealing to a pity.
- The argument that states the rightness of something just because the author thinks it is right. In other words, the author creates a statement and argues that it is right by means of demonstrating that the statement is obvious enough and it doesn't need any proofs.
- The argument of generalization. This kind of logical fallacy appeals to stereotypes. The author says that something is true simply because it has always considered to be truth. For example, before it was discovered that the earth is in the form of a sphere, people tend to think that it is plain only because their ancestors thought that it was.
- The naturalistic fallacy. This kind of an error occurs when the author is trying to provide a conclusion concerning that or another statement by means of just stating a particular fact. It is a very tricky argument because it is not based on logic at all, the author is just playing with words creating an invalid prove by the very argument.
In this list of logical fallacies you can see the most common errors that you need to be aware of.
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