The term “fallacy” refers to erroneous assumptions that are often used to invalidate claims. A reasoning error may also be described as a logical error that renders an entire argument illogical. Formal, informal, and conditional or doubtful fallacies are the three general types of errors. For example, a formal fallacy is a type of logical error that can be identified by examining the structure of an argument and is most commonly found in deductive arguments. Informal fallacies are non-structural logical errors that can only be detected by looking at the substance of a statement. Conversely, a conditional fallacy is almost always informal fallacies except that their logicality depends on the condition that one of their premises becomes acceptable. However, this paper will identify and discuss the types of informal fallacies in the paragraph in question in light of chapter four that gives insights into various kinds, aspects, and form of informal fallacies.
In the paragraph, it is evident that there is one of the reasoning mistakes based on personal attacks, ad hominem circumstantial. The error occurs when a person rejects an argument because of the circumstances of the life of a person. Such conditions may include political, religious, educational affiliations as well as income status. In a similar perspective, the argument that the philosophical argument against time travel proves nothing because ‘philosophers are just logic choppers who sit around trying’ put reality into little boxes made of words fits the classification. Philosophy is an educational affiliation and therefore, any refutation not based on evidence but rather the circumstances in which philosophers find themselves on a daily basis amounts to a fallacy. Here, one insinuates that the details of another person’s truth or falsity of claims or rather the strength of his or her arguments is an attack on that person rather than on the claim itself. We should reject claims or arguments by attacking such claims or arguments with valid reasons and based on available evidence.
Another form of informal fallacy in the paragraph is poisoning the well, the third form of ad hominem argument. The type of fallacy occurs when a person or a group of persons as in the case of the case study in question are attached to having a chance to defend themselves. In such an argument, an attacker mentions something either about the character or life of another person under attack and in a way that sends negative signal or warning to audience or readers, not to belief in the arguments of the opponent. For example, in the paragraph, the attacker insinuates that the institutional affiliation of the opponent, philosophers make their arguments about the time travel are meaningless. The implication of such a claim against philosophical arguments is to make other readers or the audience not to believe in or trust the arguments that philosophers make.
There exists another type of informal fallacy, an appeal to an unqualified authority. From the paragraph, a person claims that because philosophical arguments against time travel have not yielded tangible results, he scorns philosophical points of view regarding time travels and reluctantly arrives at a conclusion that time travel is possible because he knows that it is possible that it can happen. More often, arguments rely on the views of experts whose educational background, knowledge and experience give them an edge to offer suitable supporting premises for a particular claim. In a similar approach, the unqualified authority in the paragraph committed a fallacy of appeal to an unqualified authority by relying on his unqualified opinion while arriving at his conclusion regarding the existence of time travels while at the same time blatantly ignoring the view of philosophers.
The speaker in the paragraph has committed the fallacy of missing the point and in the excerpt when the person starts by attacking the opponent, philosophers by alleging that all their efforts to prove the existence of time travel have all been in vain and later concludes in a manner that suits the possible results of philosophers. For instance, the conclusion ought to have gone the opposite direction that time travel does not exist because philosophers have not proven its existence. Consequently, the end comes as a surprise because, from the premises, the reader is not expecting to see a final validation of the position of philosophers regarding the question at hand.
Besides, the fallacy of appeal to ignorance (ad Ignorantium) that relies on two primary arguments; first, a statement has to be true because no available evidence shows that it is false; and second, a claim is false since there is no evidence showing otherwise. In this regard, the paragraph insinuates that time travels exist because philosophers have not proven that they are non-existent. The ignorance comes in here because the conclusion is not based on the evidence available but based on lack of proof that would have proven otherwise. So then, time travels only exist because it is possible that they are available and the aspect that philosophers have not availed evidence that would have refuted such claims allows for making a conclusion in the opposite direction. Usually, the fallacy is best to describe by the phrase, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In other words, it is true that time travels exist because philosophers have not proven that they do not exist and therefore, there is no falsehood in saying that they are probably possible. However, in some instances, when it is assumed that the conclusion or fact in that matter is deduced from the evidence of absence, such arguments are not considered as fallacies but rather a valid logic.
In conclusion, the paragraph in question has various types of reasoning mistakes that include ad hominem circumstantial, poisoning the well, an appeal to an unqualified authority, the fallacy of missing the point, as well as the fallacy of appeal to ignorance. The ad hominem circumstantial fallacy regards attacking the character or institutional affiliation of a person instead of directing such an attack on the claim itself using available evidence. The appeal to an unqualified authority concerns using the information of a non-expert in arriving at a conclusion. The fallacy of missing the point concerns arriving at a conclusion that is unpredictable from the premises of an argument. The fallacy of poisoning the well is where an attacker aims at the character of the opponent to deter his audience or readers from trusting his work or perspectives on a particular issue. Lastly, the fallacy of appeal to ignorance is when a conclusion is reached and is based on lack of evidence.
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