Conceptual

Conceptual fallacies are those centered around concepts and their relations. This includes the discrete/continuous distinction, concepts in set theory, and the illegitimate mixing of ontological domains.

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Witness chain:

Definition Example
When a witness attempts to bolster their own testimony by claiming, with no independent substantiation, that there were other witnesses. I saw a ghost 5 years ago, and my uncle who died last year told me he also saw it!
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Impotent logical space:

Definition Example
When every possible outcome is encompassed by a single theorized cause, thereby rendering it either redundant to another explanatory theory, or non-existent. We have only blurry photo evidence for the existence of alien space ships, but that’s only because the aliens have technology that prevent our cameras from functioning properly.
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Denying a remote hypothetical:

Definition Example
When a hypothetical introduced to assess the coherency of a concept is rejected on grounds it is rare or improbable. I don’t need to assess my moral code against your scenario of having to choose between killing my child or my father or letting them both starve since such a dilemma has probably never actually occurred in real life.
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Perfect standard

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When an ideal of perfection is placed in contrast to a gradient of many imperfect states, implying that there are only 2 discrete categories. I remember you once shouting in anger at your brother. You are essentially an angry person.
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Abstraction denial:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When an abstraction is denied existence or agency by claiming the underlying substrate is the actual theater of agency. You can’t claim that computers “work” since it is, in fact, merely the transistors that are doing the actual processing.
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For the sake of argument denial:

Definition Example
When there is an attempt to disallow an assumption introduced for the sake of argument because the assumption is not actually believed by the one making the argument. Your argument that Santa is not real because he would need to fly his sleigh at impossible speeds on Christmas Eve is not valid since you don’t even believe in Santa.
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Bottom-up condemnation:

Definition Example
An argument of the following form. “a” has the negative quality “x” and belongs to the group “A”. Therefore “A’s have “x”. My neighbor is a banker, and is a jerk. Therefore, bankers are jerks.
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Bottom-up justification:

Definition Example
An argument of the following form. “a” has the positive quality “x” and belongs to the group “A”. Therefore “A”s have “x”. My neighbor is a banker, and a really nice guy. Therefore, bankers are nice guys.
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Top-down condemnation:

Definition Example
An argument of the following form. Group “A” has negative quality “x” and member “a” belongs to group “A”. Therefore member “a” has negative quality “x” Bankers are jerks, and because my neighbor is a banker, he must be a jerk.
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Top-down justification:

Definition Example
An argument of the following form. Group “A” has positive quality “x” and member “a” belongs to group “A”. Therefore member “a” has negative quality “x”. Bankers are nice people, and since my neighbor is a banker, he must be a nice guy.
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Faulty generalization:

Definition Example
When a conclusion based on induction is unwarranted by the degree of relevant evidence or ignores information that warrants an exception. He and his 4 brothers are bald, so his sister must also be bald.
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Special pleading:

Definition Example
When a proponent of a position attempts to introduce an exemption to a generally accepted rule or principle without justifying the exemption. Prayer works in spite of appearances that it doesn’t because you can’t subject it to the tools of science.
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Perverted analogy:

Definition Example
When an opponent’s analogy is distorted to mean something broader or more narrow than intended. Tom said life is like a river in that those who spend the energy to maneuver their boats to the middle of the river will see more during their lifetime. This is ridiculous since he can not explained where the boats come from.
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Ecological fallacy:

Definition Example
When inferences about the nature of specific individuals are based solely upon aggregate statistics collected for the group to which those individuals belong. Because the average German is taller than me, you won’t find a German who is shorter than me.
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Overwhelming exception:

Definition Example
When a generalization is coupled with qualifications so restrictive that the generalization is essentially impotent. I’m the type of man who always pays for my date’s dinner…except in the case where she want to go somewhere other than KFC.
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Genetic fallacy:

Definition Example
where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone’s origin rather than its current meaning or context. Australia will never become a great nation considering it arose from penal colonies of mere criminals.
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Fallacy of necessity:

Definition Example
a degree of unwarranted necessity is placed in the conclusion based on the necessity of one or more of its premises. I’m a bachelor, and being a bachelor is necessarily being unmarried, therefore I can never marry since I need to be single.
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Proof by example:

Definition Example
When examples are offered as proof of a more universal proposition. This apple is red, so all apples must be red.
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Sharpshooter fallacy:

Definition Example
When a precise target is chosen only after a vague prediction or speculation is made. Last year, the governor promised to stimulate the economy during his term, and you will note that this year there has been an increase of 2,000 jobs in the service industry.
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Argumentum ad populum:

Definition Example
When a conclusion is claimed to be true because many people believe it to be true. Nearly everyone believes chicken soup cures a cold, so how can you say it’s not true?
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Teleological fallacy:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When there is the claim that some object or idea has a purpose or necessary end point in the absence of evidence for that end point. Why would God have given us noses if he hadn’t planned that we should wear glasses?
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Suppressed correlative:

Definition Example
When there is an attempt to redefine one option so that it encompasses another option. You can’t claim to be intelligent since there is someone always more intelligent than you are.
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Reification:

Definition Example
When an abstraction is treated as if it were a more concrete than is warranted. True love will find you if you only allow yourself to believe in true love.
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Perfect solution fallacy:

Definition Example
When it is assumed that a perfect solution must exist and/or that a solution should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist after it has been implemented. But, Dad! Driving the family station wagon to work and school is not going to be nearly as cool as driving around in the Mustang I crashed!
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Package-deal fallacy:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When it is assumed that things often grouped together by tradition or culture must always be grouped that way. She’s likes bowling, so she must certainly beer as do most other bowlers.
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No true Scotsman:

Definition Example
When a justified categorization is rejected based on unconventional or arbitrary criteria. How can you call yourself a patriot when you are against this war? No true patriot would disagree that this is a just war.
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Naturalistic fallacy:

Definition Example
When it is claimed that, if something is natural, pleasant, or popular, then it is good or right. I know I’m in love with a bank robber. But how could could it be wrong if it feels so right?
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Linearity fallacy:

Definition Example
When it is assumed that a phenomenon functions linearly, overlooking important factors that may produce non-linearity. The mortality rate of cats falling 20 stories will be double that of cats falling 10 stories.
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Abstraction fallacy:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When a law abstracted from observation is considered to have no exceptions, and to be logically necessary. The law of gravity says that two objects of mass attract each other, so when physicists say gravity is repellent (during phase transitions), they don’t know what they’re talking about.
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Is–ought problem:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When there is an inference that, because something is a particular way, it ought to be that way. Nearly all humans wear clothing in public, so it is immoral not to.
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Inconsistent comparison:

Definition Example
When complex nodes of comparison are used that make it falsely appear as if a complete comparison has been made. My son Arthur runs faster than Thomas, gets higher grades than George, and plays piano better than William. He’s definitely the most talented boy.
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Incomplete comparison:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When not enough information is provided to make a complete comparison. This watch keeps more accurate time than that watch, so it’s best to buy this one.
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Homunculus fallacy:

Definition Example
When a lower level of perception is introduced to explain the mechanism of perception at a higher level, and then the mechanism of the lower level is explained by invoking the same mechanism as found in the higher perception. Our brains recognize a face when light from that face enters our eyes, is passed to our neurons, and then is recognized as a face by our neurons.
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False dilemma:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When two alternative positions or choices are wrongly assumed to be the only ones possible. If you are not with us, you’re against us!
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False compromise:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When it is claimed that a position near the middle of two polarized positions of an issue is the correct position since it is “balanced”. If the cyclist had been wearing a helmet as he ought to have, my drunk driving would not have killed him. The court should reduce my prison sentence from 10 to 5 years since the accident was half his fault.
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False analogy:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When an analogy fails to maintain a relevant parallel to the original concept. Using college to try to educate someone for a career is like explaining on a chalkboard how to ride a bicycle.
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Division fallacy:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When one claims that something true of an entire thing must also be true of all or some of its parts. Because a brain possesses thoughts, and a brain is composed of neurons, therefore these neurons pass thoughts back and forth.
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Denying the correlative:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When an attempt is made to introduce alternative explanations for a phenomenon where none exist. My girlfriend wanted to know whether I had cheated on her. I told her that it was impossible to have cheated on her since if I had cheated, it would mean we never really had a real relationship to cheat on.
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Continuum fallacy:

Definition Example
When an argument is rejected on the grounds that one of it’s concepts cannot be rigorously defined discretely and placed into a precise category. You can’t claim that your backpack is heavy until you tell me at what weight something becomes “heavy.”
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Conjunction fallacy:

Definition Example
the assumption that an outcome simultaneously satisfying multiple conditions is more probable than an outcome satisfying fewer of those same conditions. Because Susan is young, it is more probable that she is both a student and unmarried than that she is merely a student.
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Composition fallacy:

Conceptual Fallacy
Definition Example
When it is assumed that something true of the constituents of a whole must also necessarily be true of the whole. Paper money can be exchanged. An economy is composed of paper money, so an economy can be exchanged.
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Appeal to nature:

Definition Example
When something is deemed correct or good if it is natural, and is deemed incorrect or bad if it is unnatural. Birds are monogamous. Therefore, humans should also be monogamous.
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Human standard fallacy:

Definition Example
When a human law, categorization, definition or judgment is assumed to supersede objective fact. Because there is a law against chewing gum on Wednesdays, it is immoral to chew gum on Wednesdays.
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