This document attempts to provide a gentle introduction to logic, in the hope of enhancing the general levels of debate.

Logic is the science of reasoning, proof, thinking, or inference [Concise OED]. Logic allows us to analyze a piece of reasoning, and determine whether it is correct or not. To use the technical terms, we determine whether the reasoning is valid or invalid. One does not need to study logic in order to reason correctly. However, a little basic knowledge of logic is often helpful when constructing or analyzing an argument. Note that I am not claiming that logic is universally applicable. That issue is very much open to debate. This document only explains how to use logic; you must decide whether logic is the right tool for the job. Note also that this document deals only with simple boolean logic. Other sorts of mathematical logic, such as fuzzy logic, obey different rules. When people talk of logical arguments, though, they generally mean the type being described here. Basic concepts

The building blocks of a logical argument are propositions, also called statements. A proposition is a statement which is either true or false; for example:

  

"The first programmable computer was built in Cambridge." "Dogs cannot see colour." "Berlin is the capital of Germany."

Propositions may be either asserted (said to be true) or denied (said to be false). Note that this is a technical meaning of "deny", not the everyday meaning. The proposition is the meaning of the statement, not the particular arrangement of words used. So "A Prime Minister exists" and "There exists a Prime Minister" both express the same proposition. What is an argument?

An argument is, to quote the Monty Python sketch, "a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition". There are three stages to an argument: Premises, inference, and conclusion. Stage one: Premises One or more propositions are necessary for the argument to continue. They must be stated explicitly. They are called the premises of the argument. They are the evidence (or reasons) for accepting the argument and its conclusions. Premises (or assertions) are often indicated by phrases such as "because", "since", "obviously" and so on. (The phrase "obviously" is often viewed with suspicion, as it can be used to intimidate others into accepting dubious premises. If something doesn't seem obvious to you, don't be afraid to question it. You can always say "Oh, yes, you're right, it is obvious" when you've heard the explanation.) Stage two: Inference The premises of the argument are used to obtain further propositions. This process is known as inference. In inference, we start with one or more propositions which have been accepted. We then derive a new proposition. There are various forms of valid inference. The propositions arrived at by inference may then be used in further inference. Inference is often denoted by phrases such as "implies that" or "therefore". Stage three: Conclusion Finally, we arrive at the conclusion of the argument, another proposition. The conclusion is often stated as the final stage of inference. It is affirmed on the basis the original premises, and the inference from them. Conclusions are often indicated by phrases such as "therefore", "it follows that", "we conclude" and so on.

it is a conditional statement. if the premises are true. the conclusions might be stated first. For instance. Therefore it is not a proposition.Types of argument There are two traditional types of argument. if sometimes a little confusing. Consider two statements of the form "A because B". There are forms of argument in ordinary language which are neither deductive nor inductive. Recognizing an argument Sometimes an argument will not follow the order described above. We are explaining A. therefore obey your parents" The phrase "obey your parents" is neither true nor false. and the premises stated afterwards in support of the conclusion. Causality is important. because it will not start. this document concentrates on deductive arguments. We cannot argue from A to B using a statement of the form "A because B". Some statements look like arguments." . using B as the explanation. then the conclusion is true. but we can talk about whether they are better or worse than other arguments. the terms do not make sense in isolation. For example: "If the X-Files are to be believed then the American Government is hiding important information from the rest of the world" The above is not an argument. A valid argument is defined as one where if the premises are true. Suppose we are trying to argue that there is something wrong with the engine of a car. deductive and inductive. it is an explanation of why the car will not start. Inductive arguments are not valid or invalid. the conclusion must also be true. An inductive argument is one where the premises provide some evidence for the truth of the conclusion. Many people shower their writing with assertions without ever producing anything which one might reasonably describe as an argument. Arguments are harder to recognize than premises or conclusions. However. A proposition can only be called a premise or a conclusion with respect to a particular argument. and the sentence is not an argument. but are not. Another example: "Your parents created you. Consider: "There must be something wrong with the engine of my car. Here is an example of a deductive argument:      Every event has a cause (premise) The universe has a beginning (premise) All beginnings involve an event (premise) This implies that the beginning of the universe involved an event (inference) Therefore the universe has a cause (inference and conclusion) Note that the conclusion of one argument might be a premise in another argument. The first statement: "My car will not start because there is something wrong with the engine. we can argue from B to A using such a statement. A deductive argument is either valid or invalid. This is perfectly valid. A deductive argument provides conclusive proof of its conclusions." The statement is not an argument for there being something wrong with the engine. We can also discuss how probable their premises are. However. as they are often viewed as the most rigorous and convincing. It does not assert the premises which are necessary to support what appears to be its conclusion.

we can reach a true conclusion from one or more false premises. Obviously a valid argument can consist of true propositions.If the premises are true and the conclusion false. therefore there is something wrong with the engine. TFF -. an argument may be entirely valid even if it contains only false propositions. the inference must be invalid. However. More subtly. "B" the conclusion. "T" and "F" represent true and false respectively. the conclusion would be true. The symbol "=>" denotes implication. as in:    All fish live in the sea (premise) Dolphins are fish (premise) Therefore dolphins live in the sea (conclusion) However. therefore my car will not start. note that "A because B" is equivalent to "B therefore A". We can therefore draw up a "truth table" for implication. the one thing we cannot do is reach a false conclusion through valid inference from true premises. the conclusion is not true because the argument's premises are false. Premise Conclusion Inference A B A=>B ---------------------------FFT FTT -. however." And: "My car will not start. offering B as evidence. which we must now consider more carefully. the conclusion can be true or false. The two statements then become: "There is something wrong with the engine. Implication in detail There is one very important thing to remember: The fact that a deductive argument is valid does not imply that its conclusion holds. ." If we remember that we are supposed to be arguing that there is something wrong with the engine. For example:    All insects have wings (premise) Woodlice are insects (premise) Therefore woodlice have wings (conclusion) Here. it is clear that only the second statement is a valid argument.Here we are arguing for A. "A" is the premise. The argument is thus entirely valid. The statement "A because B" is then an argument. This is because of the slightly counter-intuitive nature of implication. To make the difference clear.If the premises are false and the inference valid. If the argument's premises were true.

For example: "Hitler's war is just and any who disagree will be tortured by the Gestapo" Argumentum ad hominem Argumentum ad Hominem is literally "argument directed at the man".If the premises are true and the inference valid. The force threatened need not be a direct threat from the arguer. It is simpler and probably more useful to summarize the major pitfalls to be avoided when constructing an argument. Argumentum ad baculum / Appeal to force The Appeal to Force is committed when the arguer resorts to force or the threat of force in order to try and push the acceptance of a conclusion. These pitfalls are known as fallacies. instead of trying to disprove the truth of an assertion. So for the purposes of this discussion. As well as criticizing the argument itself. for example. arguments are almost always presented with some specific purpose in mind. This is invalid because the truth of an assertion does not depend upon the goodness of those asserting it. and also some rhetorical devices often used in debate. that he is a known perjurer. one can criticize the apparent intent of the argument. By studying fallacies we aim to avoid being misled by them. Below is a list of some common fallacies. the conclusion must be true. however! Fallacies To delve further into the structure of logical arguments would require lengthy discussion of linguistics and philosophy. however. This is a valid way of reducing the credibility of the testimony given by the witness. This is fair enough. In everyday English the term "fallacy" is used to refer to mistaken beliefs as well as to the faulty reasoning that leads to those beliefs. we can criticize more than the mere soundness of an argument. Of course. especially if the argument appears valid or convincing. and can be summarized as "might makes right". In everyday life. but which can be seen to be incorrect when examined more closely. For example: "The negative team's arguments are wrong because they are patriachal males" Sometimes in a court of law doubt is cast upon the testimony of a witness by showing.TTT -. Be careful not to confuse sound arguments with valid arguments. the arguer attacks the person or people making the assertion. and not Argumentum ad Hominem. The Abusive variety of Argumentum ad Hominem occurs when. For example: "It is perfectly acceptable to kill animals for food. it does not demonstrate that the witness's testimony is false. A sound argument therefore arrives at a true conclusion. A sound argument is a valid argument whose premises are true. To conclude otherwise is to fall victim of the Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. The circumstantial form of Argumentum ad Hominem is committed when a person argues that his opponent ought to accept the truth of an assertion because of the opponent's particular circumstances. but in logic the term is generally used to refer to a form of technically incorrect argument. we define a fallacy as a logical argument which appears to be correct. The list is not intended to be exhaustive. Such criticism is outside the scope of this document. It is often used by politicians. How can you argue otherwise when you're quite happy to wear leather shoes?" .

It is violence against women. It consists of asserting that the more people who support or believe a proposition. when one alleges that one's adversary is rationalizing a conclusion formed from selfish interests. Argumentum ad ignorantiam Argumentum ad ignorantiam means "argument from ignorance". a basic scientific principle. is also known as "poisoning the well". For example: "Pornography must be banned. The fallacy is committed when the arguer appeals to pity for the sake of getting a conclusion accepted. we can distinguish quite clearly between: "Hawking has concluded that black holes give off radiation" and "Penrose has concluded that it is impossible to build an intelligent computer" . You're white." Argumentum ad numerum This fallacy is closely related to the argumentum ad populum. equivalently. Argumentum ad verecundiam The Appeal to Authority uses the admiration of the famous to try and win support for an assertion. (Note that this is not the same as assuming that something is false until it has been proved true." Argumentum ad misericordiam This is the Appeal to Pity.) Examples: "Of course Elvis is alive. or Appealing to the People." This line of argument is not always completely bogus. This form of fallacy is often characterized by emotive language." This particular form of Argumentum ad Hominem. when it is argued that something must be false because it has not been proved true. For example: "Mal Meninga was a great footballer. For example. also known as Special Pleading. For example: "Of course you would argue that positive discrimination is a bad thing. the more likely it is that that proposition is correct. Nobody can prove otherwise. Or. reference to an admitted authority in a particular field may be relevant to a discussion of that subject. To commit this fallacy is to attempt to win acceptance of an assertion by appealing to a large group of people. used as an excuse for dismissing the opponent's argument. This fallacy occurs whenever it is argued that something must be true simply because it has not been proved false. I'm suffering enough through being an orphan. This fallacy can also be used as a means of rejecting a conclusion. he is saying that you should buy this car therefore you should. for example." Argumentum ad populum This is known as Appealing to the Gallery. Please don't find me guilty. For example: "I did not murder my mother and father with an axe.This is an abusive charge of inconsistency.

It occurs when one forms a general rule by examining only a few specific cases which are not representative of all possible cases. and my headache disappeared. A sweeping generalization is the opposite of a hasty generalization. For example: "I took an aspirin and meditated. Circulus in demonstrando This fallacy occurs when one assumes as a premise the conclusion which one wishes to reach. You are a Christian. so it is questionable whether he is well-qualified to speak on the subject of machine intelligence. so you must dislike atheists. For example: "The Great Depression occured after the rise of Communism. Therefore we must avoid Communism for the same reasons. and leaves no room for other factors that may be the cause(s) of the events. and so we can reasonably expect his opinions on black hole radiation to be informed. the proposition will be rephrased so that the fallacy appears to be a valid argument. Penrose is a mathematician. It is the error made when one goes from the general to the specific. The fallacy of Non Causa Pro Causa occurs when one identifies something as the cause of an event but it has not actually been shown to be the cause.Hawking is a physicist. For example: "Christians generally dislike atheists. Often." This fallacy is often committed by moralists and legalists who try to decide every moral and legal question by mechanically applying general rules. Therefore meditation cured my headache" The fallacy of Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc occurs when something is assumed to be the cause of an event merely because it happened before the event. It asserts that because two events occur together. Converse accident / Hasty generalization This fallacy is the reverse of the Fallacy of Accident. they must be causally related." Cum hoc ergo propter hoc This fallacy is similar to Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc. Non causa pro causa / Post hoc ergo propter hoc These are known as False Cause fallacies. For example: "Richard Nixon was a dishonest President therefore all presidents are dishonest" Sweeping generalization / Dicto simpliciter A sweeping generalization occurs when a general rule is applied to a particular situation in which the features of that particular situation render the rule inapplicable. Petitio principii / Begging the question This fallacy occurs when the premises are at least as questionable as the conclusion reached. The fallacy of accident The Fallacy of Accident is committed when a general rule is applied to a particular case whose "accidental" circumstances mean that the rule is inapplicable. For example: .

the premise is the same as the conclusion. Fallacies of composition One Fallacy of Composition is to conclude that a property shared by the parts of something must apply to the whole. Therefore Communists cannot be allowed to hold government office. For example: "Ants can destroy a tree. Like its opposite. The first is to assume that a property of some thing must apply to its parts. Accent Accent is another form of fallacy through shifting meaning. For example: "The bicycle is made entirely of low mass components. it exists in two varieties." Fallacy of division The fallacy of division is the opposite of the Fallacy of Composition. the meaning is changed by altering which parts of a statement are emphasized. Ignoratio elenchi The fallacy of Irrelevant Conclusion consists of claiming that an argument supports a particular conclusion when it is actually logically nothing to do with that conclusion. and will be open to blackmail." The other is to assume that a property of a collection of items is shared by each item. In this case."Communists must not be allowed to hold government office. Equivocation / Fallacy of four terms Equivocation occurs when a key word is used with two or more different meanings in the same argument. that users can do what they like with it. Hence any government official who is revealed to be a Communist will lose his job. Therefore cars are less environmentally damaging than buses. Sadly. For example: "You are studying at a rich college. and is therefore very lightweight. such fallacious arguments are often successful because they arouse emotions which cause others to view the supposed conclusion in a more favourable light." Note that the argument is entirely circular. Therefore this ant can destroy a tree. Therefore you must be rich. we must place a license on it to make sure that will always be freely redistributable." ." The other Fallacy of Composition is to conclude that a property of a number of individual items is shared by a collection of those items. For example: "What could be more affordable than free software? But to make sure that it remains free." Amphiboly Amphiboly occurs when the premises used in an argument are ambiguous because of careless or ungrammatical phrasing. Therefore Communists will do anything to hide their secret. For example: "A car uses less petrol and causes less pollution than a bus.

the problem is not that the implication is invalid. therefore A is true". This fallacy is the opposite of the argumentum ad crumenam.. To understand why it is a fallacy. Argumentum ad nauseam . Note that this fallacy is different from Non Causa Pro Causa. The truth table for implication makes it clear why this is a fallacy. There is no proof made that the harmful events are caused by the first event. A is false.. B is true. rather it is that the falseness of A does not allow us to deduce anything about B. A is false.. Therefore we cannot legalize marijuana." Argumentum ad novitatem This is the opposite of the Argumentum ad Antiquitatem. therefore B is false". dogs are a form of animal based on carbon chemistry. examine the truth table for implication given earlier. where A does not in fact imply B at all. it is the fallacy of asserting that something is more correct simply because it is new or newer than something else. that those with more money are more likely to be right. so will other harmful events. then we would have to legalize crack and heroin and we'll have a nation full of drug-addicts on welfare. The latter has the form "A implies B. Denial of the antecedent This fallacy is an argument of the form "A implies B. Here. so aren't dogs a form of cat?" Affirmation of the consequent This fallacy is an argument of the form "A implies B." "A is based on B" fallacies / ". therefore B is false". For example: "If we legalize marijuana.. or because "that's the way it's always been. therefore if B then A". Argumentum ad antiquitatem This is the fallacy of asserting that something is right or good simply because it is old.The slippery slope argument This argument states that should one event occur. Argumentum ad lazarum The fallacy of assuming that because someone is poor he or she is sounder or more virtuous than one who is wealthier.is a type of." fallacies / Fallacy of the Undistributed Middle These fallacies occur when one attempts to argue that things are in some way similar without actually specifying in what way they are similar. Converting a conditional This fallacy is an argument of the form "If A then B. Argumentum ad crumenam The fallacy of believing that money is a criterion of correctness. Examples: "Cats are a form of animal based on carbon chemistry.

It is a fallacy because it fails to deal with the actual arguments that have been made. constitutes a claim that those situations are analogous to each other.This is the incorrect belief that an assertion is more likely to be true the more often it is heard. Red herring This fallacy is committed when irrelevant material is introduced to the issue being discussed. Shifting the burden of proof The burden of proof is always on the person making an assertion or proposition. in an argument about a general rule. then to conclude that the original position has been demolished. so that everyone's attention is diverted away from the points being made." "Are you saying that cryptography legislation is as important as the struggle for Black liberation? How dare you!" . Plurium interrogationum / Many questions This fallacy occurs when a questioner demands a simple answer to a complex question. Straw man The straw man fallacy is to misrepresent someone else's position so that it can be attacked more easily. The fallacy is to assume that mentioning two different situations. Shifting the burden of proof." "Such a position is odious: it implies that you would not have supported Martin Luther King. bifurcation occurs when one presents a situation as having only two alternatives. towards a different conclusion. The extended analogy The fallacy of the Extended Analogy often occurs when some suggested general rule is being argued over. The source of the fallacy is the assumption that something is true unless proven otherwise. Reification / Hypostatization Reification occurs when an abstract concept is treated as a concrete thing. An "argumentum ad nauseam" is one that employs constant repetition in asserting something. Non sequitur A non-sequitur is an argument where the conclusion is drawn from premises which are not logically connected with it. This fallacy is best explained using a real example from a debate about anti-cryptography legislation: "I believe it is always wrong to oppose the law by breaking it. Bifurcation Also referred to as the "black and white" fallacy. is the fallacy of putting the burden of proof on the person who denies or questions the assertion being made. a special case of Argumentum ad Ignorantiam. then to knock down that misrepresented position. where in fact other alternatives exist or can exist.

" "So? You've been abusive too. however. Remember always that fallacious arguments can arrive at true conclusions. and I have no sisters. Therefore. This means that there are 112 female students in the class. How many statements are there in the example below? I have two brothers. Hillary Clinton must be a communist spy. It stands to reason that the Encyclopedia Americana has an article on symbiosis . We usually think of a statement as a declarative sentence. The conclusion of an argument is that statement or proposition for which the premises are intended to provide support. She supports socialized health care.) (Important note: premises are always intended to provide support or evidence for the conclusion. Argumentum ad logicam This is the "fallacy fallacy" of arguing that a proposition is false merely on the grounds that it has been presented as the conclusion of a fallacious argument. and is therefore a special case of Argumentum ad Hominem. and everyone who supports socialized health care is a communist spy. it is often viewed with suspicion. because there are 148 students in the class total. It is better to exist than not to exist.Tu quoque This is the famous "you too" fallacy.) Some Example Arguments God is defined as the most perfect being. An argument is a collection of statements or propositions. A statement or proposition is something that can either be true or false. even if the premises don't really provide any support at all. For instance: "You're just being randomly abusive." This is a personal attack. but they donn't always succeed! It's still an argument. (In short. It has rained more than 15 inches per year in Amherst every year for the past 30 years. some of which are intended to provide support or evidence in favor of one of the others. The Encyclopaedia Britannica has an article on symbiosis. God exists. A perfect being must have every trait or property that it's better to have than not to have. Professor Chappell said that the ratio of female to male students in the class was exactly 3:1. it is the point the argument is trying to make. or part of a sentence. Audiatur et altera pars Often. It is not strictly a fallacy to fail to state all of one's assumptions. and there are still premises and a conclusion. It occurs when an action is argued to be acceptable because the other party has performed it. The principle of Audiatur et Altera Pars is that all of the premises of an argument should be stated explicitly. An inference is a process of reasoning in which a new belief is formed on the basis of or in virtue of evidence or proof supposedly provided by other beliefs. people will argue from assumptions which they do not bother to state. (The answer is 3!) The premises of an argument are those statements or propositions in it that are intended to provide the support or evidence. So you can safely bet it will rain more than 15 inches in Amherst this year. Basic Definitions Logic is the study of the criteria used in evaluating inferences or arguments.

no spider monkeys are animals. An argument is deductive if the author intends it to be so strong that it is impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion to be false. So the examples above are valid. Jason isn't an NRA member. An invalid argument may have true or false premises. Therefore. Therefore. To be a good argument. A deductive argument attempts (successfully or unsuccessfully) to provide full proof of the conclusion. the argument is invalid. These arguments share the same form: All A are B. Therefore. 5 is a prime number. all toasters are time-travel devices. and induction is reasoning from the specific to general. Almost 90% of NRA members are republicans. Many people think deduction is reasoning from the general to the specific. nor in this course. All items made of gold are time-travel devices. and Jason isn't a republican. From now on. 1) All tigers are mammals. It may be hard to imagine these premises as true. or in other words. without appealing to any other knowledge you have. No B are C. No A are C. An inductive argument only attempts (successfully or unsuccessfully) to provide evidence for the likely truth of the conclusion. An argument with true premises is called factually correct. The distinction actually has to do with how strong the author of an argument intends the evidence or support to be. or if the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. 2) All spider monkeys are elephants. An argument is inductive if the author intends it only to be so strong that it is improbable that the premises could be true and the conclusion false. Validity and Soundness A deductive argument is valid if it has a form that would make it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. 7 is a prime number. A valid argument may have false premises with either a true or a false conclusion. (What is wrong with #2?) Now consider: . I'm going to focus only on deductive logic. that the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. This is NOT how these words are actually used by most logicians. or in other words. So there's more to an argument's being a good one than validity. that the conclusion is likely if the premises are true. because many people are taught the distinction wrongly in high school. For example: All toasters are items made of gold. no tigers are creatures with scales. the conclusion would also be true. Inductive Logic and Deductive Logic This can be a tricky subject. It only has to do with what would follow from them if they were true. A sound argument is an argument that is both valid and factually correct. Argument Form The validity of a deductive argument is determined entirely by its form. Sound arguments always have true conclusions. rather than outright proof. 3 is a prime number. All arguments with this form are valid. you should first imagine that the premises are true—whether or not they actually are—and then ask yourself.as well. since the two reference works tend to cover the same topics. but it is not hard to recognize that if they were true. could you still imagine the conclusion being false? If you can. Therefore. To test whether an argument is valid. The only combination that is ruled out is a valid argument with true premises and a false conclusion. 1 is a prime number. A valid argument can have false premises. all odd integers between 0 and 8 are prime numbers. an argument must also have true premises. Consider these arguments. Therefore. Note that validity does not have to do with the actual truth or falsity of the premises. No elephants are animals. then the argument is valid. and a true or false conclusion. No mammals are creatures with scales. If you can't.

These are the only two ways of evaluating an argument that are important for the purposes of this class. and assessing those of others. 2) If Minnie Driver has agreed to go on date with Kevin. Therefore. The Appeal to Ignorance Fallacy This fallacy is committed when something is concluded to be true simply because it hasn't been proven to be false. If the argument is both valid and factually correct. The Wishful Thinking Fallacy This fallacy is committed when someone concludes that something must be true in virtue of what he or she wants to be true (or doesn't want to be false) instead of what the evidence suggests. Something can be true even if no one has succeeded in showing it to be true. If all emotions are physical processes in the brain. Unfortunately. Consider: Christina Aguilera loves all of Eminem's lyrics. the Earth is a basketball. The real upshot of this. Therefore. Example: The idea of life in a universe without God would be frightening and depressing. 1) If God existed. then God exists. God must exist. All arguments with this form are invalid. ask yourself whether or not the premises are true. however. then J. The Eifel tower is made of cheese. if you imagine that they are. Evaluating Arguments Logically Logic is very important in philosophy. then the argument is factually correct. Therefore. Therefore. God does not exist. 4) All Jedis are one with the force. Atlanta is the capital of Georgia.3) All basketballs are round. Therefore. X is an A. Some Logical Pitfalls Begging the Question An argument begs the question when it makes use of a premise that no one who didn't already accept the conclusion would believe. It could be possible for the premises to be true and the conclusion false. If all of them are true (regardless of the conclusion). It is not possible to know what love feels like simply by studying brain chemistry. you do not logically have to accept the soundness of every argument for that conclusion. just because there are better consequences to something's being true rather than false does not provide evidence that it is true. and everything in the Bible is the true word of God. then it is possible to know what love feels like simply by studying brain chemistry. materialism is false. God does not exist. if the process of reasoning is a good one. Therefore. Simply put. Example: God exists. because it says that God exists in the Bible. Therefore. If it does. The Earth is round. Lo and Puffy are not dating anymore. Yoda is a Jedi. #4 is not a good argument. Therefore. 3) Either materialism is false or all emotions are physical processes in the brain. and all invalid arguments are unsound. Minnie Driver has not agreed to go on a date with Kevin. #4 is invalid. But J. or is concluded to be false just because it hasn't been proven to be true. and very difficult to accept. there is no life after death. is that just because you believe a certain conclusion. All A are F. but note that the conclusion isn't made true by the premises. The "Ad Hominem" Fallacy This fallacy is committed when an argument or position is rejected not in virtue of its logical merits. Reasoning in such a way is invalid. There are two steps in evaluating an argument. It is worth noting that an argument may still have a true conclusion even if it is invalid or factually incorrect (or both). Yoda is one with the force. Therefore. an argument begs the question when it reasons in a circle or presupposes the truth of the very thing it's trying to prove. that is. because so much of what philosophers do involves putting forth arguments. Lo and Puffy would still be dating. ignore for the moment whether or not the premises actually are true. then the argument is valid. Example: No one has even proven that there is life after death. the conclusion follows from them. These arguments also have the same form. #4 may seem like a good argument because all the premises and the conclusion are true (at least in fiction). then the conclusion must be true. Next. . and ask yourself whether or not. X is F. but rather in virtue of the character. First.

: "Descartes has argued that all persons consist of two distinct substances: a material body and an immaterial mind. and an argument can be sound. background or motivation of the person giving the argument or holding the position.g. But President Clinton is a lecherous. But who is Descartes to say what is true of all persons?" . What I call the "who's to say" fallacy is an instance of ad hominem reasoning. E.personality. Example: Former president Clinton has argued in favor of increasing restrictions on the sale of guns. adulterous. Who holds a belief has nothing to do with whether or not it's true. However. a position can be true. no matter how deplorable the person is. draft-dodging old pervert. so his views must surely be misguided. untrustworthy.