Monday, August 04, 2008

Aristotle's 13 Fallacies

Aristotle, in his Sophistical Refutations (Sophistici Elenchi), identified thirteen fallacies, as follows:

Linguistic fallacies

  • Accent - accent (or emphasis) gives a different meaning from that of the words alone and can be used to direct attention
  • Amphiboly - the structure of a sentence has more than one possible meaning
  • Equivocation - the same word is used, but has two or more different meanings
  • Composition - If A is X and B is X then the group to which A and B belong are all X
  • Division - X has characteristic Y. P is a part of X, so also has characteristic Y
  • Figure of Speech - different words in Greek or Latin had different cases or genders

Non-linguistic fallacies

  • Accident - X is explained by rule Y. But X does not fall under Y
  • Affirming the Consequent - If A is true then B is true. B is true. Therefore A is true
  • In a Certain Respect and Simply - A is an attribute of B. So A is an attribute of C
  • Ignorance of Refutation - A set of statements leads to conclusion X. Yet conclusion Y is drawn
  • Begging the Question - The truth of A is assumed within the original premise about A. Thus A is not really proven by the argument
  • False Cause - A causes B (without real proof that this causal relationship actually exists)
  • Many Questions - Ask many different questions. They may be related with a central theme. They may also be unrelated

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