18 Reasoning Errors Essay

Submitted By Johanny-Stephens
Words: 2031
Pages: 9

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Reasoning Errors (with answers and notes)

Argument 1

All persons in the secretaries' union are persons who make a lot of money.

Ann is a secretary.

Therefore, Ann is a person who makes a lot of money.

Answer: Four-term fallacy

The terms “persons in the secretaries’ union” and “secretary” are two different terms thus making the syllogism invalid because it has four terms instead of three.


Argument 2

Only man (not the plants or animals) is that which has been called by God to avoid sin and reap the rewards of heaven.

Martha is not a man.

Therefore, Martha is not that which has been called by God to avoid sin and reap the rewards of heaven.

Answer: Equivocation

While you have three terms, “man,” “that which has been called by God to avoid sin and reap the rewards of heaven,” and “ Martha,” the term “man” has two different meanings. In the major premise the term “man” is used in a general sense to describe all human beings whereas, in the minor premise, the term “man” refers to a human being who is male thus you have one term defined two ways.


Argument 3

Ron has either a very strong proposal or a very weak proposal.

Ron does not have a very strong proposal.

Therefore, Ron has a very weak proposal.

Answer: Either/Or fallacy

The fallacy occurs when a person makes a claim that presents an artificial range of choices. In other words, the argument presents only two possible choices when three or more really exist. This fallacy is sometimes called a False Dilemma, the all-or-nothing fallacy, or the black-and-white fallacy. The Either/Or fallacy does not acknowledge that both choices could be true, gray areas exist between the two alternatives, or that other possibilities exist. In this syllogism only two possible choices are given. However, it is possible Ron has a good, but not very strong, proposal. There are other options besides a very strong or very weak proposal. Thus this argument commits the Either/Or fallacy.


Argument 4

Terry visited three bars in town.

Each of the three bars had a blonde, female bartender.

Terry concluded that all bars in town have blonde, female bartenders.

Answer: Hasty Generalization

This fallacy occurs when a conclusion is drawn from a sample that is too small or selective to assume with any confidence that it represents the subject accurately. Just because the three bars Terry visited had blonde, female bartenders does not mean all bars in town do. Another way people commit this fallacy is by stereotyping. Stereotyping is a type of Hasty Generalization because it is based on insufficient evidence. Here are two other examples of this fallacy. 1. All teenagers who pierce their bodies have no respect for authority. 2. My date did not wear a wedding ring, and then I found out he was married. Thus, you can’t trust men who don’t wear rings.


Argument 5

"If you legalize the use of fetal tissue for research, then people will be selling it for profit. Soon women will be getting pregnant just to have an abortion and profit from the sale of their fetus. I can even imagine wholesale distributors storing thousands of babies, stacked up like sides of beef, in warehouses all over the United States."

Answer: Slippery Slope

This fallacy argues that, just like on a water slide, once a person initiates an action, there is no stopping it until it hits the bottom. This fallacy starts with some minor activity and predicts a major catastrophic outcome that can neither be proven or disproven. The error with this argument is the assumption that each step between the first and the last is not one that can be stopped.


Argument 6

Zac: The Bible is the word of God. That I know!

Andy: And what makes you believe so?

Zac: If you read the Bible you will see that in several places it states, "This is the word of God."

Answer: Circular Reasoning or Begging the Question

In this fallacy the conclusion of a deductive argument is hidden in the premise, and the argument