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Life Undercover 240 Life Undercover 240
by Thanos K & Asa B
2012-11-22 10:00:37
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Emanuel Paparella2012-11-22 17:37:46
When that particular feeling ensues, there are three philosophical alternatives available to promptly dispel it: 1) the appeal to ignorance 2) begging the question 3) straw man 4) the appeal to the person (ad hominem argument.

With the first, one attempts to prove something by appealing to what we don’t know: a claim is true because it has not been proven false or a claim is false because it has not been proven true. For example: no one has proven that a fetus is not a person, so it is in fact a person; or, it is obviously false that a fetus is a person because science has not proven that it is a person.

With the second one tries to prove a conclusion by using that very same conclusion as support; it is in effect arguing in a circle. For example: the Bible says that God exists, the Bible is true because God wrote it. Therefore God exists.

With the third, one simply misinterprets or distorts a person’s views so that they can more easily be attacked and dismissed. For example: I support an immunization program that will save the lives of 500,000 children but will likely cause the death of one child. My opponent will distort that view by saying that I think that the life of a child isn’t worth much.

With the fourth, one rejects a statement on the grounds that it comes from a particular person, independent of whether or not the claim is false or dubious. For example: Johnson argues that our current health care system is defective. Don’t listen to him—he is a liberal.

A caveat: before the reader proceeds to utilize any of these argumentative strategies, he should be aware that in ethics and logic they are best known as “fallacies in moral reasoning.”


Emanuel Paparella2012-11-22 19:14:49
P.S. Errata: the alternatives are not 3 but 4.


Emanuel Paparella2012-11-23 13:34:42
P.S. Another addendum: actually the less tortuous way to eliminate those feelings is not by the four fallacious alternatives mentioned by by simply admitting that one is wrong when indeed one is.


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