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Introduction to Fallacies

CONTENT: In this week's material we will describes two phenomena that are both common and useful in the languages that human beings speak, but both of which give rise to the potential for fallacious reasoning. A word or phrase is vague when its meaning is not precise, and it is ambiguous when it has more than one meaning. When we use vague or ambiguous phrases in our reasoning, it is very easy for us to make a number of different kinds of fallacies. This week will teach you what these different kinds of fallacies are, and give us some practice in spotting them, so you can make sure to avoid them in the future. LEARNING OUTCOMES : By the end of this week's material you will be able to: define what a fallacy is distinguish various kinds of fallacies understand the linguistic phenomena that give rise to fallacies identify various kinds of slippery slop fallacies where they occur identify various kinds of fallacies of equivocation where they occur OPTIONAL READING: If you want more examples or more detailed discussions of the fallacies that result from vaguness or ambiguity, we recommend Understanding Arguments, Ninth Edition, Chapters 13-14.

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