Dr Tom Kerns


Informal Fallacies Assignment

Fallacies: Mistakes in Argument

This assignment will take place between Thursday October 15 and Tuesday October 20

For the next three or four days we will be learning about and discussing logical fallacies.

Fallacies fall into two major classes:

    1. Mistakes in the syllogistic structure of an argument. These are called fallacies of structure, or fallacies of form, or form fallacies or, more commonly, “formal fallacies.” There are relatively few of these. When we study the structure of syllogisms we will learn about some of these fallacies of form.

    2. All other fallacies, i.e., those which are not fallacies of form, are called non-form fallacies or, more commonly, “informal fallacies.” Depending on how you group or divide them, there can be dozens of informal fallacies. Chapter 3 in our textbook, for example, describes twenty-some informal fallacies. One book I’ve assigned in other classes described over 100 different informal fallacies.

In this course, however, we are going to learn only eight informal fallacies, and we’re going to learn them by reading a silly little short story titled “Love is a Fallacy” by Max Schulman. There will be no assigned reading in Hurley's chapter 3 (on informal fallacies) though you're certainly free to read any parts of that chapter you might like to.

Here are the five elements of your fallacies assignment:

    1. Read the little story by Max Schulman titled “Love is a Fallacy.” You can read it here.
    2. Make a list of the 8 fallacies described in the story, and write out a short one- or two-sentence description of what you understand each fallacy to be.
    3. Find or create one other example of each of the 8 fallacies exemplified and identified in this story. You could either find real-world examples of each of these fallacies (in editorials or articles or conversations, for example), or you can just make up your own examples.
    4. Post your list of fallacies, definitions of each, and your new examples of each of the fallacies, in the Informal Fallacies forum in the classroom.
    5. Read through and respond to examples posted by classmates.