Why Spot Logical Fallacies
Why should you learn how to spot logical fallacies? On a very practical level, it’s how you can defend yourself from bad information or bad arguments. If you don’t fall for the bad arguments or bad information, it doesn’t matter as much, unless it’s formal logic. In formal logic, the attitude and rules are strict. In rhetoric, there really are no rules. Your audience is responsible for finding the flaws. If they do find flaws in your logic, you lose credibility. Heinrichs says that the ability to find logical fallacies is how you defend yourself from politicians, salespeople, diet books, doctors and even your own children.
3 Ways to Spot Logical Fallacies
There’s 3 simple ways you can spot logical fallacies:
With an emphasis on the word "favor," her response is likely to be for the President's missile defense system. With an emphasis, instead, on the word "effectively," her remark is likely to be against the President's missile defense system. And by using neither emphasis, she can later claim that her response was on either side of the issue. For an example of the Fallacy of Accent involving the accent of a syllable within a single word, consider the word "invalid" in the sentence, "Did you mean the invalid one?" When we accent the first syllable, we are speaking of a sick person, but when we accent the second syllable, we are speaking of an argument failing to meet the deductive standard of being valid. By not supplying the accent, and not supplying additional information to help us disambiguate, then we are committing the Fallacy of Accent.
A logical fallacy is, roughly speaking, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy. I say “roughly speaking” because this definition has a few problems, the most important of which are outlined below. Some logical fallacies are more common than others, and so have been named and defined. When people speak of logical fallacies they often mean to refer to this collection of well-known errors of reasoning, rather than to fallacies in the broader, more technical sense given above.