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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 5: LANGUAGE BASED FALLACIES

Quick Review

This page reviews the definitions of eight 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 use of language in arguments. Keep in mind that they could also be grouped in other ways, as could the fallacies in other sections of this site.

AMPHIBOLY (unclearness, misusing ambiguity, ambiguity): using grammar or punctuation in a way that a statement can have multiple interpretations, so it's not really clear what is meant.

EQUIVOCATION: changing the meaning of a word or phrase from one part of the argument to another.

FIGURE OF SPEECH: confusing figurative language with literal language.

HYPOSTATIZATION (reification): treating something that exists in the mind as if it was a real object.

LOADED LANGUAGE: using emotionally charged language to create an impression about the subject of a claim, without making an argument that the language fits the subject.

QUESTION BEGGING EPITHETS: a form of loaded language that uses an emotionally charged restatement of the claim, often in the form of name calling, in place of support for the claim.

SPECIAL PLEADING: referring to an act committed by an opponent in negative terms while referring to the same act committed by the arguer or supporters in favorable terms.

STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE: reasoning that ideas presented in an appealing manner are correct, regardless of the content of the message.

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