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Discussion of Logical Fallacies

The 17 logical fallacies are unfortunately common throughout various argument processes, often compromising the discussions individuals attempt to hold. In most cases they are not used deliberately, instead representing the hidden failures within an argument a person earnestly believes in. Nevertheless, these fallacies can be damaging for the participants of the conversation. They often include the substitution of concepts and contradictory statements that possess serious capacity for harm if observed within important discussions.

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One of the most popular and damaging logical fallacies is known as the false dilemma or either-or-fallacy. It manufactures the non-existing divide and false sense of urgency by creating an impression that a person whom the flawed argument is applied to only has two options. Sometimes a person may choose between a greater number of options or they don’t have to choose at all, if the instalments do not directly contradict each other. The false dichotomy fallacy makes an error by oversimplifying the range of possibilities. This fallacy is especially common in politics, where opponents attempt to limit each other’s outlook on the situation to further their agenda and benefit themselves. Historically the use of this fallacy has led to large-scale tragedies, since the real-context examples are generally rather complex and well-disguised. The main danger of the false dilemma lies in its capacity to force a person to choose between two options that are suboptimal or sometimes, unquestionably damaging (Zhou, 63). A person is pressured to choose the lesser evil when in reality there might have been a way for them to not engage with evil in the first place.

Arguments based on dilemmas are only false when there are more possibilities than those provided. If there are only two possibilities, however, it is not a fallacy. “Either The Beatles is the greatest band of all time, or they are not,” for example. That’s a true conundrum, because there are only two options: A or non-A. “There are only two sorts of people in the world: people who love The Beatles and people who despise music,” however, is a fallacy. Some folks are uninterested in the type of music. Some like it, while others despise it, but neither has strong feelings about it.

I have encountered the false dichotomy fallacy in the context of sports competitions, in which I overall lack interest. However, some of my family members are extremely invested in sports and, more importantly, associate their investment with patriotic feelings. Once, frustrated by my ambivalence towards a major football match, my father accused me of having no interest or positive feelings associated with my country and its prosperity. The false dilemma presented itself within his claim that one either loves sports and follows the successes and failures of their national team or does not care for their country. This claim is easily disproven, since not only are there many ways of supporting one’s country and caring for it, but many sports fans enjoy their hobby for non-patriotic reasons.

I was not persuaded by it, since the fallacy in question was a throw-away phrase said in the heat of a moment. My father has later recognized the flawed line of argument he used and admitted it, fully resolving the situation. However, this case is a very interesting example of a false dichotomy, since it demonstrates how easy it is to design a conflict around seemingly mundane thing. By introducing a non-existent “either-or”, a person creates the sense of opposition between concepts that may as well be entirely unrelated.

Work Cited

Zhou, Zilin Cidre. “The Logical Fallacies in Political Discourse.” Summer Research Program, 5(1), pp. 1-97 (2018).

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