Is calling an argument a fallacy, or is the notion of informal fallacy, just a method of manipulation?

3

Indeed, there are ways of thought which are not consistent with logic. I am not talking about such fallacies here. All of formal fallacies, statistical fallacies or fallacies of relevance (e.g. ad homenem) are here.

But I'm talking about other arguments which are called fallacies. Among them are naturalistic fallacy, appeal to consequences, no true Scotsman and hundreds of others. But as I see it, they are not real fallacies but only the unpersuasive points. Otherwise we could call for any X "appeal to X" a fallacy. For example, appeal to science, appeal to logic, appeal to rationality, etc.

So, are they really called fallacies just in order to make an accuser, the one who says another person is commiting a fallacy, seem more persuasive, therefore being just a manipulative trick?

rus9384

Posted 2018-07-28T20:12:26.117

Reputation: 2 456

Answers

1

No.

Of course, you can probably find examples of people saying "this is a fallacy" where what gets called a fallacy is not, in fact, a fallacy. Mis-identification is possible, and I've even found something online once that suggested you learn fallacies so that you accuse your opponent of making them in a formal debate setting (I think it got written for high school students engaging in formal debates or something). So, such fallacies can get used as a method of manipulation.

However, all of the fallacies could, and sometimes do, get made by people who don't really make positive arguments of their own or have claims. For example, the "No True Scotsman" fallacy often appears in multiple groups who have members with a certain commitment to the identity of the group being a certain way. But, people who are simply not members of that group sometimes point out that a "No True Scotsman" fallacy occurs. Or even, members of that group will point out, or suggest, that a No True Scotsman fallacy gets made.

Such pointing out really doesn't make anyone look more persuasive when that person really isn't trying to persuade you of anything (other than such a fallacy has gotten made by the person making it). So, no, the notion of an informal fallacy is not just a method of manipulation.

Doug Spoonwood

Posted 2018-07-28T20:12:26.117

Reputation: 573

I meant, these people instead of trying to understand why does the another person refers to nature, or no true 'Scotsman', instead of being interested in their thoughts, prefers to think of self as of the only right one and accuses another person commiting a fallacy. – rus9384 – 2018-07-31T19:05:01.720

@rus9384 I don't know who you mean by 'these people'. I would certainly not say that all people who say "that's a true scotsman fallacy!" think that way. I don't think you can infer much about a person just from them saying that something is a fallacy. If you did, that would be hasty generalization. – Doug Spoonwood – 2018-07-31T19:07:17.697

Well, because they are not willing to explain me things, they rather would find a fallacy in my words. You may consider a non-naturalist saying naturalist is commiting a fallacy: appeal to nature. But is it a correct response? – rus9384 – 2018-07-31T19:09:35.440

1@rus9384 Huh? If you are online, as soon as someone identifies your argument as fallacious by a name, in principle, you have a method by which to see how it leads to errors, since such names generally have sources such as Wikipedia to explain them. Saying "you're wrong" or "your reasoning is fallacious" sounds like an explanation is lacking. Not so much if he or she says "you've made the naturalistic fallacy". We need to see an example and know the full context to determine if a particular response is correct or not. – Doug Spoonwood – 2018-07-31T19:13:16.747

1@rus9384 I'm certain there are some people who'd rather point out a fallacy (at best, if not outright discredit your argument just by saying "you're wrong" as Doug points). That doesn't mean that the legitimacy of claiming such fallacy in an argument is immediately associated with manipulation. Sure, I'd be happy to argue with someone who wouldn't only point out a fallacy in my reasoning, but would also elaborate on why he thinks so and offer a counter-argument. That'd be a healthy discussion. But I can't expect to witness that in every discussion I'm having (especially on the internet). – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-08-01T15:05:16.520

@YechiamWeiss, the thing is that their wordl views are different and they do not care to understand this: they think my world view is equal to them and since these points are incompatible with their world views they fell them as fallacies. But they are not incompatible with mine, therefore it is not a fallacy by fact. – rus9384 – 2018-08-01T17:59:47.643

@rus9384 "they do not care to understand this..." Sounds fairly ad hominem. – Doug Spoonwood – 2018-08-01T23:25:43.133

@DougSpoonwood, ad hominem is a fallacy of relevance: "you are X, therefore you are wrong" whereas X has nothing to with the dispute. Here X is very relevant. Indeed, you can only attack the premise itself, but you need to find an alternative explanation - better alternative. – rus9384 – 2018-08-01T23:29:45.177

@rus9384 No, who said whatever got said doesn't change whether or not what you said is a fallacy. I don't know how this question arose, but it doesn't seem like you've managed to look at this with a level head... yet... if you ever will. – Doug Spoonwood – 2018-08-01T23:49:21.173

"who said doesn't change whether or not what you said is a fallacy". - great! You understand it. So, now there are people with world views similar to me who agree with me on given topic and others with different world views who accuse me commiting a fallacy while former - don't. So, here I say there is a difference when someone is accusing me: either I hold a position which inconsistent with my own world view or only with their world views. In first case I'm, undoubtably, commiting a fallacy. In latter - hard to say. But even if I'm, I did it far earlier than given topic. – rus9384 – 2018-08-01T23:54:51.933

1@rus9384 a fallacy is an objective claim towards an argument, it can't be used to attack one's world view directly. The fact that one makes a false statement (i.e. containing a fallacy) wouldn't change if he'd had a different world view. If you feel like a fallacy is more compatible with one world view than the other, I suggest that you might not fully understand such fallacy. If someone uses a fallacy in order to support his world view and disown another's, I'd suggest he doesn't fully understand that fallacy. – Yechiam Weiss – 2018-08-02T05:03:44.970