You are on page 1of 10


Fallacies of Presumption,
Ambiguity, and Grammatical

Overview • Fallacies of presumption • Fallacies of ambiguity • Fallacies of grammatical analogy .

The question of “why” is never answered. – Smirnoff makes the best drinks because they’re so tasty. They taste good because they can afford to bottle them with the best flavors added in. Smirnoff has to be the best drink makers around!  It’s not clear where the reasoning process begins since it just goes in circles. which is why it’s left out.Different fallacies of presumption • Begging the question (Petitio principii) – Occurs when the arguer creates the illusion that inadequate premises provide adequate support for the conclusion by leaving out a possibly false (shaky) premise by restating it as the conclusion or by reasoning in a circle. So the arguer creates the illusion that the premise supports the conclusion when it does not. Because it’s such a wealthy drink distributor. Just look at how greasy they are!  The premise left out here could be framed as “Greasy cheeseburgers are bad for you. – The shaky premise usually can’t be verified as true or not. since it undermines the argument. . • Example: – McDonald’s cheeseburgers are bad for you.

“Have you ever cheated on tests?” and “If you cheated in the past. To defeat a complex question.  Two questions are really being asked. have you stopped?” – This can be a hard fallacy to defeat. The question is intentionally framed this way.More fallacies of presumption • Complex question – Occurs when two or more questions are asked in the form of a single question and a single answer is given to both. and the response of the listener confirms that condition. • Example: – So are you still cheating on your tests?  Whether a yes or no answer is given. – Every complex question presumes that a certain condition is already true. it still leads to the listener confirming something that is probably not true. since it is easy to be roped into admitting something that may not be true. . it’s best to break the question down into its two individual questions and answer each one separately.

You told me you don’t eat beef jerky. • Fallacy occurs when the alternatives provided to the listener are false or are probably false. therefore it’s clear you’re not a real man.More fallacies of presumption • False dichotomy – This one occurs when an arguer offers the listener two alternative answers to a question. .  Judging someone’s manhood can be done in other ways besides eating beef jerky. When one of them is true. • Examples: – Either you give me $20 or I’ll hate you forever.  It’s clear that there are other options beyond being hated and giving up money. so it’s clear this is a poor set of choices. as though they were the only possible options. then no fallacy is committed. Usually these are poor choices since there is a third one that provides a better answer to the question. – Either you eat beef jerky or you’re not a real man.

 What if we learn that the listener is going to have a baby soon? Or is getting ready to buy a new car? This would have a big impact on her finances. Evidence like this is important to the conclusion. so it’s clear that it was left out for a reason. • The evidence left out typically would support a different conclusion than the one given. so you won’t have any trouble living off that much for another year or so. look at that paint job!  This may sound like a good argument. . and ties in greatly with how well the premises work together with the conclusion. – You’ve lived on $1000 for the past year. I mean. • Examples: – Your car is as good as new. but what if we consider that the car has an oil leak and hasn’t been serviced in fifteen years? It may look new but that doesn’t mean it will run like new.More fallacies of presumption • Suppressed evidence – Occurs when an argument leaves out an important fact that is relevant to the premises and how well they support the conclusion.

– You told me the crate over there was light. . I’m a bad salesman.  The word “bad” is used differently in the premise than it is in the conclusion. but it’s used in two different senses within the argument. therefore I should also be put in jail. – Pete said he got stoned last night but I think he’s lying. • Examples: – Bad people should be put in jail. He doesn’t have any bruises. so a fallacy is committed here.Fallacies of ambiguity • Equivocation – Occurs when a conclusion depends on the fact that a word is used.  The listener took the word light to mean something that acts as a source of light. and not as something that doesn’t weigh much. but I can’t see anything inside it.

• Examples: – There will be a talk tomorrow over coffee in the cafeteria.More fallacies of ambiguity • Amphiboly – The arguer misinterprets an ambiguous statement and draws a conclusion based on that faulty interpretation. It must be the case that coffee has become a popular topic for discussion. It follows that I look like a blueberry.  There’s two possibilities. . or if coffee will be drank while they talk.  It’s not clear whether the talk will be about coffee. that the speaker is depressed or that his skin is turning blue. – You told me that I’m looking pretty blue.

the finished dish will also taste bad. It follows that the chalkboard is invisible. • Example: – This pitcher of tea tastes sweet. Occurs when properties of a class of things are improperly transferred to its individual parts. – Each atom in this chalkboard is invisible. all the paint on it must be brown.Fallacies of grammatical analogy • Composition – Occurs when properties of a thing’s parts are improperly transferred over to the whole. • Example: – Each ingredient in this recipe tastes bad. . – That painting on the wall appears brown. Therefore. Therefore. the tea leaves in it must taste sweet. Therefore. • Division – The opposite of composition.

Pontiacs must all be junk! (Converse accident) • My Pontiac gets good gas mileage. (Accident) • You’re studying at a rich college. so you must go to church. Therefore. while converse accident and accident only make general claims. (Division) . • But composition and division deal with classes of things. – Examples: • My Pontiac has broken down twice in the past month. you must be rich. You’re a Christian.On composition and division • Composition/division can be confused with the converse accident/accident fallacies. All Pontiacs must get good gas mileage. (Composition) • Christians tend to go to church.