Fallacies

Argumentation 1 (3):255-262 (1987)
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Abstract

Fallacies are things people commit, and when they commit them they do something wrong. What kind of activities are people engaged in when they commit fallacies, and in what way are they doing something wrong? Many different things are called fallacies. The diversity of the use of the concept of a fallacy suggests that we are dealing with a family of cases not related by a common essence. However, we suggest a simple account of the nature of fallacies which encompasses them all, viz., the term “fallacy” is our most general term for criticizing any general procedure used for the fixation of beliefs that has an unacceptably high tendency to generate false or unfounded beliefs, relative to that method of fixing beliefs. Very different sorts of things called fallacies are examined in the light of this account, e.g., denying the antecedent, circular arguments, so-called informal fallacies, and propositions said to be fallacies. We do not provide a theory of fallacies. Still, on our account pretty much all of those things that have been called fallacies are fallacies, and they have been called fallacies for pretty much the same reasons

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