26B

Lesson 26B Preview: Sir Anthony Kenny Video on Medieval Philosophy; Video “William of Ockham”; Robert Godfrey Lecture “Pre-Reform Church History”

An Introduction to Anthony Kenny:

We learn from Wikipedia that “Sir Anthony John Patrick Kenny FBA (born 16 March 1931 in Liverpool) is an English philosopher whose interests lie in the philosophy of mind, ancient and scholastic philosophy, the philosophy of Wittgenstein and the philosophy of religion. With Peter Geach, he has made a significant contribution to Analytical Thomism, a movement whose aim is to present the thought of St Thomas Aquinas in the style of modern philosophy by clearing away the trappings and obscurities of traditional Thomism. He is one of the executors of Wittgenstein’s literary estate. He is a former President of the British Academy and current President of the Royal Institute of Philosophy…”

“Kenny initially trained as a Roman Catholic priest at the Venerable English College, Rome, where he received the degree of S.T.L. He was ordained in 1955 and served as Curate in Liverpool 1959-63. Having received his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford (St Benet’s Hall) in 1961, he also worked as an Assistant Lecturer in the University of Liverpool (1961–63)… He was  excommunicated on his marriage to Nancy Gayley in 1965.

Anthony Kenny examines Medieval Philosophy in an interview with Bryan Magee, a respected author, politician, and popularizer of philosophy:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

William of Ockham (1288 – c. 1348) was an English Franciscan Friar and scholastic philosopher who, we are told by Wikipedia, was “believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey,[England]. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of the fourteenth century.” William of Ockham’s famous argument, known widely as Ockham’s Razor (alt. spelling is Occam), is still widely taught in universities. (I have used it myself in an advanced writing class in argumentation.) Our narrator is not a theologian but a secular scientist interested in applying Ockham’s method to contemporary issues in science and everyday life.

The title of this lecture is misleading as it is the first lecture in a course on this subject  of The Reformation in the Netherlands; however, Prof. Robert Godfrey, president of Westminster Seminary (CA), provides a very interesting introductory lecture on Pre-Reform Church History and the transition to the reformation period. (Click here to go to the media player.) Dr. Godfrey’s presentation is a survey of this period that offers numerous insights we will be encountering for the first time.

Bible Verses for Reflection: Job 9: 16-35

A Quote for Your Consideration: “When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self and all things; and secondly, that he should be reconstructed in the simple good that God is; and thirdly, that he should consider the great aristocracy which God has set up in the soul, such that by means of it man may wonderfully attain to God; and fourthly, of the purity of the divine nature.” (Meister Eckhart)

Questions for Discussion:

1. Bryan Magee presents a question to Sir Anthony regarding why so many of the great medieval philosophers were either born and raised the British Isles or, at the least, spent significant time living in the Isles? What was Sir Anthony’s multi-faceted response?

2. Drawing on Sir Anthony’s ideas, what role did the subject matter Logic play in the early universities of the medieval period? What role was it accorded in the following centuries by university philosophy departments? In light of our recent videos of Plantinga and Craig, how would you describe its impact on modern day Christian philosophers?

3. What is the most common charge of moderns against medieval philosophers, according to Bryan Magee? How did Sir Anthony respond to this charge; that is, what is the substance of his rebuttal? Which philosophers does he invoke as examples to deflect this charge?

4. The Theory of the Just War absorbed the attention of medieval philosophers according to Sir Anthony. What were the clashing perspectives on the moral legitimacy of war and its tactical elements? How is the Theory applied today to modern concerns?

5. To what extent do we have free will? This was another major philosophical problem investigated by medieval philosophers. What were the problems within this area of interest? How did Christians view the central theological implication(s) of these philosophical issues?

6. In the video on William of Ockham, the narrator, apparently a biologist, offers his modification of Ockham’s Razor? This embellishment involves “empirical evidentiary support”. He then applies it to an argument concerning the origin of the universe. How might William Lane Craig receive this application of the Razor? Which video of Craig’s was most helpful in formulating your answer?

7. Dr. Godfrey describes the structure of society in the middle ages and defines the several “levels” or “estates” that have been defined by medieval historians. How many were there and how would you define them? Within the religious community there were “secular clergy” and “regular clergy”. How would you define these concepts?

8. Imagine you are a medieval university student in Munich during the 1200’s. The professor in your theology class asks, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” What is an appropriate answer and why should you care, according to Dr. Godfrey? What is the surprising analogy to angels that Prof. Godfrey uses when comparing medieval academic interests to contemporary American interests?

Glossary of Terms and Concepts:

1. Logical Fallacies The fallacies below are often detected by us as we watch talking heads (e.g., politicians, pundits, etc) on TV news programs. Below you will find a list of the most common examples of fallacious reasoning with definitions that will improve your ability to detect confusion and/or deception. Knowledge of these fallacies can also improve your writing and argumentation skills as you practice your Christian apologetics in the manner of William Lane Craig. [from Wikipedia]. Please note the embedded links. These links will take you to a related discussion at Wikipedia if you wish to learn more.

2. Ad Hominem

An ad hominem (Latin: “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the truth of a claim to a negative characteristic or belief of the person advocating it.The ad hominem is normally described as a logical fallacy,but it is not always fallacious; in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue.

3. Tu Quoque

Tu quoque (pronounced /tuːˈkwoʊkwiː/), or the appeal to hypocrisy, is a kind of logical fallacy. It is a Latin term for “you, too” or “you, also”. A tu quoque argument attempts to discredit the opponent’s position by asserting his failure to act consistently in accordance with that position; it attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. This dismisses someone’s viewpoint on an issue on the argument that the person is inconsistent in that very thing.It is considered an ad hominem argument, since it focuses on the party itself, rather than its positions.

4. Appeal to the Consequences of a Belief

Appeal to consequences, also known as argumentum ad consequentiam (Latin for “argument to the consequences”), is an argument that concludes a premise (typically a belief) to be either true or false based on whether the premise leads to desirable or undesirable consequences. This is based on an appeal to emotion and is a form of logical fallacy, since the desirability of a consequence does not address the truth value of the premise. Moreover, in categorizing consequences as either desirable or undesirable, such arguments inherently contain subjective points of view.

In logic, appeal to consequences refers only to arguments which assert a premise’s truth value (true or false) based on the consequences; appeal to consequences does not refer to arguments that address a premise’s desirability (good or bad, or right or wrong) instead of its truth value. Therefore, an argument based on appeal to consequences is valid in ethics, and in fact such arguments are the cornerstones of many moral theories, particularly related to consequentialism.

5. Appeal to Authority

Argument from authority (also known as appeal to authority) is a fallacy of defective induction, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. The most general structure of this argument is:

  1. Source A says that p is true.
  2. Source A is authoritative.
  3. Therefore, p is true.

This is a fallacy because the truth or falsity of a claim is not related to the authority of the claimant, and because the premises can be true, and the conclusion false (an authoritative claim can turn out to be false). It is also known as argumentum ad verecundiam (Latin: argument to respect), argumentum ad potentiam (Latin: argument to power), or ipse dixit (Latin: he himself said it).

On the other hand, arguments from authority are an important part of informal logic. Since we cannot have expert knowledge of many subjects, we often rely on the judgments of those who do. There is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true. The fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from criticism.

6. Appeal to Belief

In logic, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”) is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or most people believe it; it alleges: “If many believe so, it is so.”

This type of argument is known by several names,including appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people, argument by consensus, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy, and in Latin by the names argumentum ad populum (“appeal to the people”), argumentum ad numerum (“appeal to the number”), and consensus gentium (“agreement of the clans”). It is also the basis of a number of social phenomena, including communal reinforcement, the bandwagon effect, and the spreading of various religious beliefs. The Chinese proverbthree men make a tiger” concerns the same idea.

7. Appeal to Common Practice

Appeal to tradition (also known as proof from tradition, appeal to common practice, argumentum ad antiquitatem) is a common fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition. The appeal takes the form of “this is right because we’ve always done it this way.

An appeal to tradition essentially makes two assumptions that are not necessarily true:

  • The old way of thinkingwas proven correct when introduced, i.e. since the old way of thinking was prevalent, it was necessarily correct.
    • In actuality this may be false — the tradition might be entirely based on incorrect grounds.
  • The past justifications for the tradition are still valid at present.
    • In actuality, the circumstances may have changed; this assumption may also therefore be untrue.

The opposite of an appeal to tradition is an appeal to novelty, claiming something is good because it is new.

8. Appeal to Emotion

Appeal to emotion is a potential fallacy which uses the psychological and encompasses several logical fallacies, including:

9. Appeal to Popularity

In logic, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”) is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or most people believe it; it alleges: “If many believe so, it is so.”

This type of argument is known by several names,including appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people, argument by consensus, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy, and in Latin by the names argumentum ad populum (“appeal to the people”), argumentum ad numerum (“appeal to the number”), and consensus gentium (“agreement of the clans”). It is also the basis of a number of social phenomena, including communal reinforcement, the bandwagon effect, and the spreading of various religious beliefs. The Chinese proverbthree men make a tiger” concerns the same idea.

10. Appeal to Fear

An appeal to fear (also called argumentum ad metumor argumentum in terrorem) is a fallacy in which a person attempts to create support for an idea by using deception and propaganda in attempts to increase fear and prejudice toward a competitor. The appeal to fear is common in marketing and politics.

11. Appeal to Flattery

Appeal to flattery (also apple polishing or wheel greasing) is a fallacy in which a person uses flattery, excessive compliments, in an attempt to win support for their side.

Flattery is often used to hide the true intent of an idea or proposal. Praise offers a momentary personal distraction that can often weaken judgment. Moreover, it is usually a cunning form of appeal to consequences, since the audience is subject to be flattered as long as they comply with the flatterer.

12. Appeal to Novelty

The appeal to novelty (also called argumentum ad novitatem) is a fallacy in which someone prematurely claims that an idea or proposal is correct or superior, exclusively because it is new and modern. In a controversy between status quo and new inventions, an appeal to novelty argument isn’t in itself a valid argument. The fallacy may take two forms: overestimating the new and modern, prematurely and without investigation assuming it to be best-case, or underestimating status quo, prematurely and without investigation assuming it to be worst-case.

13. Appeal to Pity

An appeal to pity (also called argumentum ad misericordiam)is a fallacy in which someone tries to win support for an argument or idea by exploiting his or her opponent’s feelings of pity or guilt. It is a specific kind of appeal to emotion.

14. Appeal to Popularity

In logic, an argumentum ad populum (Latin for “appeal to the people”) is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or most people believe it; it alleges: “If many believe so, it is so.”

This type of argument is known by several names,including appeal to the masses, appeal to belief, appeal to the majority, appeal to the people, argument by consensus, authority of the many, and bandwagon fallacy, and in Latin by the names argumentum ad populum (“appeal to the people”), argumentum ad numerum (“appeal to the number”), and consensus gentium (“agreement of the clans”). It is also the basis of a number of social phenomena, including communal reinforcement, the bandwagon effect, and the spreading of various religious beliefs. The Chinese proverbthree men make a tiger” concerns the same idea.

15. Appeal to Ridicule

Appeal to ridicule, also called appeal to mockery, the Horse Laugh,or reductio ad ridiculum (Latin: “reduction to the ridiculous”), is a logical fallacy which presents the opponent’s argument in a way that appears ridiculous, often to the extent of creating a straw man of the actual argument, rather than addressing the argument itself. This is a rhetorical tactic that mocks an opponent’s argument, attempting to inspire an emotional reaction (making it a type of appeal to emotion) in the audience and to highlight the counter-intuitive aspects of that argument, making it appear foolish and contrary to common sense. This is typically done by demonstrating the argument’s logic in an extremely absurd way or by presenting the argument in an overly simplified way, and often involves an appeal to consequences.

16. Appeal to Spite

An appeal to spite (also called argumentum ad odium)is a fallacy in which someone attempts to win favor for an argument by exploiting existing feelings of bitterness, spite, or schadenfreude in the opposing party.It is an attempt to sway the audience emotionally by associating a hate-figure with opposition to the speaker’s argument.

Fallacious ad hominem arguments which attack villains holding the opposing view are often confused with appeals to spite. The ad hominem can be a similar appeal to a negative emotion, but differs from it in directly criticizing the villain —that is unnecessary in an appeal to spite, where hatred for the villain is assumed.

17. Appeal to Tradition

Appeal to tradition (also known as proof from tradition,appeal to common practice, argumentum ad antiquitatem) is a common fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition. The appeal takes the form of “this is right because we’ve always done it this way.”

18. Begging the Question

Begging the question (or petitio principii, “assuming the initial point”) is a type of logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proven is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise.

The first known definition in the West is by the Greek philosopher Aristotle around 350 BC, in his book Prior Analytics, where he classified it as a material fallacy. Begging the question is related to the circular argument, circulus in probando (Latin, “circle in proving”) or circular reasoning, though these are considered absolutely different by Aristotle.

19. Biased Generalization (aka fallacy of faulty generalization or defective induction)

A fallacy of defective induction reaches a conclusion from weak premises. Unlike fallacies of relevance, in fallacies of defective induction, the premises are related to the conclusions yet only weakly buttress the conclusions. A faulty generalization is thus produced. This inductive fallacy is any of several errors of inductive inference.

20. Burden of Proof

The philosophic burden of proof is the obligation on a party in an epistemic dispute to provide sufficient warrant for their position.

21. Circumstantial Ad Hominem

Ad hominem circumstantial points out that someone is in circumstances such that he is disposed to take a particular position. Ad hominem circumstantial constitutes an attack on the bias of a source. This is fallacious because a disposition to make a certain argument does not make the argument false; this overlaps with the genetic fallacy (an argument that a claim is incorrect due to its source).

The circumstantial fallacy applies only where the source taking a position is only making a logical argument from premises that are generally accepted. Where the source seeks to convince an audience of the truth of a premise by a claim of authority or by personal observation, observation of their circumstances may reduce the evidentiary weight of the claims, sometimes to zero.

22. Fallacy of Composition

A fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). For example: “This fragment of metal cannot be broken with a hammer, therefore the machine of which it is a part cannot be broken with a hammer.” This is clearly fallacious, because many machines can be broken into their constituent parts without any of those parts being breakable.

This fallacy is often confused with the fallacy of hasty generalization, in which an unwarranted inference is made from a statement about a sample to a statement about the population from which it is drawn. The fallacy of composition is the converse of the fallacy of division.

23. Confusing Cause and Effect

Fallacies of questionable cause, also known as causal fallacies, non causa pro causa (“non-cause for cause” in Latin) or false cause, are informal fallacies where a cause is incorrectly identified. These include:

24. Fallacy of Division

A fallacy of division occurs when one reasons logically that something true of a thing must also be true of all or some of its parts.

An example:

  1. A Boeing 747 can fly unaided across the ocean.
  2. A Boeing 747 has jet engines.
  3. Therefore, one of its jet engines can fly unaided across the ocean.

The converse of this fallacy is called fallacy of composition, which arises when one fallaciously attributes a property of some part of a thing to the thing as a whole. Both fallacies were addressed by Aristotle in Sophistical Refutations.

25. False Dilemma

A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, black-and-white thinking or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options (sometimes shades of grey between the extremes). For example, “It wasn’t medicine that cured Ms. X, so it must have been a miracle.”

False dilemma can arise intentionally, when fallacy is used in an attempt to force a choice (“If you are not with us, you are against us.“) But the fallacy can also arise simply by accidental omission of additional options rather than by deliberate deception (e.g., “I thought we were friends, but all my friends were at my apartment last night and you weren’t there.”

26. Gambler’s Fallacy

The Gambler’s fallacy, also known as the Monte Carlo fallacy (because its most famous example happened in a Monte Carlo Casino in 1913)or the fallacy of the maturity of chances, is the belief that if deviations from expected behaviour are observed in repeated independent trials of some random process, future deviations in the opposite direction are then more likely.

For example, if a fair coin is tossed repeatedly and tails comes up a larger number of times than is expected, a gambler may incorrectly believe that this means that heads is more likely in future tosses.Or if a slot machine does not “jackpot” over a long period, a gambler may incorrectly believe that it’s due for a win.

27. Genetic Fallacy

The genetic fallacy is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone’s origin rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context.

The fallacy therefore fails to assess the claim on its merit. The first criterion of a good argument is that the premises must have bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim in question.Genetic accounts of an issue may be true, and they may help illuminate the reasons why the issue has assumed its present form, but they are irrelevant to its merits.

28. Guilt by Association

An association fallacy is an inductive informal fallacy of the type hasty generalization or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. The two types are sometimes referred to as guilt by association and honor by association. Association fallacies are a special case of red herring, and can be based on an appeal to emotion.

29. Hasty Generalization

Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence. It commonly involves basing a broad conclusion upon the statistics of a survey of a small group that fails to sufficiently represent the whole population. Its opposite fallacy is called slothful induction, or denying the logical conclusion of an inductive argument (i.e. “it was just a coincidence”).

30. Ignoring a Common Cause

“Correlation does not imply causation” (related to “ignoring a common cause” and questionable cause) is a phrase used in science and statistics to emphasize that correlation between two variables does not automatically imply that one causes the other (though correlation is necessary for linear causation in the absence of any third and countervailing causative variable, and can indicate possible causes or areas for further investigation; in other words, correlation can be a hint).

The opposite belief, correlation proves causation, is a logical fallacy by which two events that occur together are claimed to have a cause-and-effect relationship. The fallacy is also known as cum hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin for “with this, therefore because of this”) and false cause. By contrast, the fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc requires that one event occur before the other and so may be considered a type of cum hoc fallacy.

31. Middle Ground

Argument to moderation (Latin: argumentum ad temperantiam, also known as middle ground, false compromise, gray fallacy and the golden mean fallacy) is a logical fallacy which asserts that any given compromise between two positions must be correct.

32. Misleading Vividness

Misleading vividness is a term that can be applied to anecdotal evidencedescribing an occurrence, even if it is an exceptional occurrence, with sufficient detail to permit hasty generalizations about the occurrence (e.g., to convince someone that the occurrence is a widespread problem). Although misleading vividness does little to support an argument logically, it can have a very strong psychological effect because of a cognitive heuristic called the availability heuristic.

33. Peer Pressure

…citing a source who is actually an authority in the relevant field, carries more subjective, cognitive weight. A person who is recognized as an expert authority often has greater experience and knowledge of their field than the average person, so their opinion is more likely than average to be correct. In practical subjects such as car repair, an experienced mechanic who knows how to fix a certain car will be trusted to a greater degree than someone who is not an expert in car repair. There are many cases where one must rely on an expert, and cannot be reasonably expected to have the same experience, knowledge and skill that that person has. Many trust a surgeon without ever needing to know all the details about surgery themselves. Nevertheless, experts can still be mistaken, wilfully deceptive, subject to pressure from peers or employers, have a vested financial interest in the false statements, or have unusual views (or views that are widely criticized by other experts) within their field, and hence their expertise does not always guarantee that their arguments are valid.

34. Personal Attack

An ad hominem (Latin: “to the man”), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the truth of a claim to a negative characteristic or belief of the person advocating it.The ad hominem is normally described as a logical fallacy, but it is not always fallacious; in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue.

35. Poisoning the Well

Poisoning the well (or attempting to poison the well) is a logical fallacy where adverse information about a target is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that the target person is about to say. Poisoning the well can be a special case of argumentum ad hominem, and the term was first used with this sense by John Henry Newman in his work Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864). The origin of the term lies in well poisoning, an ancient wartime practice of pouring poison into sources of fresh water before an invading army in order to diminish the invading army’s strength.

36. Post Hoc

Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for “after this, therefore because of this”, is a logical fallacy (of the questionable cause variety) that states, “Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one”. It is often shortened to simply post hoc and is also sometimes referred to as false cause, coincidental correlation, or correlation not causation. It is subtly different from the fallacy cum hoc ergo propter hoc, in which the chronological ordering of a correlation is insignificant.

Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to be integral to causality. The fallacy lies in coming to a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors that might rule out the connection.

37. Questionable Cause

Fallacies of questionable cause, also known as causal fallacies, non causa pro causa (“non-cause for cause” in Latin) or false cause, are informal fallacies where a cause is incorrectly identified. These include:

38. Red Herring

Red herring is an idiomatic expression referring to the rhetorical or literary tactic of diverting attention away from an item of significance. For example, in mystery fiction, where the identity of a criminal is being sought, an innocent party may be purposefully cast in a guilty light by the author through the employment of false emphasis, deceptive clues, ‘loaded’ words or other descriptive tricks of the trade. The reader’s suspicions are thus misdirected, allowing the true culprit to go (temporarily at least) undetected. A false protagonist is another example of a red herring.

39. Relativist Fallacy

The relativist fallacy, also known as the subjectivist fallacy, is a fallacy committed, roughly speaking, when one person claims that something may be true for one person but not true for someone else. The fallacy is supposed to rest on the law of non-contradiction. The fallacy, it is said, applies only to objective facts, or what are alleged to be objective facts, rather than to facts about personal tastes or subjective experiences, and only to facts regarded in the same sense and at the same time. On this formulation, the very name “relativist fallacy” begs the question against anyone who earnestly (however mistakenly or not) holds that there are no “objective facts.” So some more work has to be done, in a non-question-begging way, to make it clear wherein, exactly, the fallacy lies.

40. Slippery Slope

In debate or rhetoric, a slippery slope (also known as thin edge of the wedge, or the camel’s nose) is a classic form of argument, arguably an informal fallacy. A slippery slope argument states that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom.The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant,i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process which leads to the significant effect. The fallacious sense of “slippery slope” is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. Modern usage avoids the fallacy by acknowledging the possibility of this middle ground.

41. Special Pleading

Special pleading is a form of spurious argumentation where a position in a dispute introduces favorable details or excludes unfavorable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations themselves. Essentially, this involves someone attempting to cite something as an exemption to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exemption.

The lack of criticism may be a simple oversight (e.g., a reference to common sense) or an application of a double standard.

A more difficult case is when a possible criticism is made relatively immune to investigation. This immunity may take the forms of:

  • unexplained claims of exemption from principles commonly thought relevant to the subject matter

Example: I’m not relying on faith in small probabilities here. These are slot machines, not roulette wheels. They are different.

  • claims to data that are inherently unverifiable, perhaps because too remote or impossible to define clearly

Example: Cocaine use should be legal. Like all drugs, it does have some adverse health effects, but cocaine is different from other drugs. Many have benefited from the effects of cocaine.

  • assertion that the opponent lacks the qualifications necessary to comprehend a point of view

Example: I know you think that quantum mechanics does not always make sense. There are things about quantum mechanics that you don’t have the education to understand.

42. Spotlight

In statistics, sampling bias is when a sample is collected in such a way that some members of the intended population are less likely to be included than others. It results in a biased sample, a non-random sample of a population (or non-human factors) in which all individuals, or instances, were not equally likely to have been selected.If this is not accounted for, results can be erroneously attributed to the phenomenon under study rather than to the method of sampling.

Medical sources sometimes refer to sampling bias as ascertainment bias.Ascertainment bias has basically the same definition,[ but is still sometimes classified as a separate type of bias.

43. Straw Man

A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

44. Two Wrongs Make a Right

Two wrongs make a right is a logical fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that if one wrong is committed, another wrong will cancel it out. Like many fallacies, it typically appears as the hidden major premise in an enthymeme—an unstated assumption which must be true for the premises to lead to the conclusion. This is an example of an informal fallacy.

  • Speaker A: You shouldn’t embezzle from your employer. It’s against the law.
  • Speaker B: My employer cheats on their taxes. That’s against the law, too!

45. Who is to Say?

Argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or “appeal to ignorance”, is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not been proven false (or vice versa). This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there is insufficient investigation and therefore insufficient information to satisfactorily prove the proposition to be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four, (1) true, (2) false, (3) unknown between true or false, and (4) being unknowable (among the first three).In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used to shift the burden of proof.

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