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Dr. Jay
VerLinden
Communication
Department
College of Arts, Humanities
and Social Sciences
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Argumentation and Critical Thinking Tutorial

INFORMAL FALLACY DEFINITIONS

GROUP 1: STRICTURE BASED FALLACIES

Quick Review

This page reviews the definitions of six fallacies. A common English name for each fallacy is used, with alternative names in parentheses. This page does not describe the fallacies in detail, so you should be sure to read some material on these fallacies before you take the tests.

These fallacies have been grouped together because they can all be considered to be based on the classical structure of argumentation. Keep in mind that they could also be grouped in other ways, as could the fallacies in other sections of this site.

ACCIDENT (sweeping generalization, dicto simpliciter ): concluding that a legitimate generalization necessarily applies to a particular case.

LAUDATORY PERSONALITY: a particular type of fallacy of accident that reasons that a person won't do or couldn't have done something bad, or that the person must have done something good, because he or she has some good qualities or occupies a prestigious position.

REPREHENSIBLE PERSONALITY: a particular type of fallacy of accident that reasons that a person won't do or couldn't have done something good, or that the person must have done something bad, because he or she has some negative qualities or occupies a particular position.

GUILT BY ASSOCIATION: a particular type of fallacy of accident that reasons someone or something necessarily shares all the same characteristics of those with which it is affiliated.

FALSE DILEMMA (false dichotomy, either-or fallacy, bifurcation, black-or-white fallacy): incorrectly assuming one choice or another must be made when there are other alternatives.

BEGGING THE QUESTION (circular reasoning, petitio principii , circulus in probando , circulus in demonstrando ): arguing in such a way that a premise is in some way the same as the conclusion.

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