Thursday, 24 March 2016 19:51

Fallacies Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(1 Vote)


A fallacy is considered as a kind of error in reasoning. Fallacies are not supposed to be persuasive, but they are normally persuasive. Fallacies can be used in indicating any false belief or a cause of a false belief. Arguments that use poor reasoning are usually referred to as fallacies (Hurley, 2008). There are different fallacies, but this paper will focus on two types of fallacies, which are fallacies of false cause and fallacies of accident.

Fallacies of false cause
A fallacy of false cause is normally committed when the conclusion is resting on the assumption of a causal link existing between two phenomena when all that is shown is a correlation. This fallacy tends to improperly conclude that one thing is usually the cause of another. It is usually committed when an argument is mistakenly used in establishing a causal connection (Engel, 1994). According to the false cause fallacy, it has two kinds, which are post hoc ergo propter hoc. This is a fallacy of arguing that an event has caused another event to happen because it just occurred after the event. An example of this fallacy can be since hair comes before the growth of teeth in children, the growth of hair is the cause to the growth of teeth.

The second kind of fallacy of false cause is non causa pro causa. This is a fallacy of making a mistake concerning the attribution of some cause of the effect. The form of a false cause is that phenomenon X occurs after which Y occurred (Engel, 1994). A good example of a false cause is that Minister Willy raised taxes and then the rates of crimes increases. Therefore, Willy is responsible of the increase in crimes. An increase in the taxes could result to the rise in rates of crime, but the argument does not indicate how one caused the other. Therefore, a way that the fallacy of false cause can be avoided, it is necessary for the arguer to provide an explanation of the process that the increase in taxes resulted to increase in crime rates. In order to avoid committing the fallacy of false cause, it is important to provide an explanation.

Fallacy of accident

According to the fallacy of accident it is usually committed by an argument which tends to apply a general rule to a certain case where some special circumstances make the rule be inapplicable. A fallacy of accident usually start with a statement of some principle which is normally true as a general rule, but it goes wrong when applying the principle in a specific case which is a typical or unusual in some way. An example of a fallacy of accident is Thou shall not kill; therefore, people should not fight for their countries. When using this fallacy, people usually think from general to something that is specific (Engel, 1994). This fallacy usually arises from people believing the general premise that has a qualified meaning that apply in all circumstances with no restriction. An example to illustrate this is that United States is a true democracy; therefore, criminals and also children are supposed to be allowed to vote. This means that criminals and children should not be restricted to vote. Fallacy of accident is usually committed when a person apply generalization to a case that is irrelevant.


The fallacy of accident and fallacy of false cause have nothing in common. These are two fallacies, which are extremely different. The fallacy of accident is completely different as in its use it usually applies the principle or a general rule to a certain case. On the other hand, the fallacy of false cause usually argues that an event has caused another event to happen because it just occurred after the event. The fallacy of accident is based on a principle while the fallacy of false cause is based on the occurrence of a certain event.
The logical form of the fallacy of accident is that X is an accepted and common rule; therefore, there is no exception to X. An example for this fallacy is that I believe that people are never supposed to deliberately hurt other people, and this is the reason as to why I will never become a surgeon. The logical form of fallacy of false cause is phenomenon X occurs after which Y occurred. This means that X caused Y. An example is that, every time you come to visit me, I feel sick. Therefore, the sickness is caused by your visit. This means that I might feel better if you did not visit me.

Fallacy of equivocation

The fallacy of equivocation normally occurs when a key phrase or term in an argument is used in a way that is ambiguous where one meaning is in one portion of the argument and another meaning in another portion (Marenborn 2007). This occurs when a phrase with more than one possible meaning is being used in different senses of an argument. When a fallacy of equivocation is committed, the conclusion is usually drawn as if there is only one meaning that existed (Jacob, 2012). For instance, exciting books are rare, and rare books are usually expensive. Therefore, exciting books are expensive. This is an excellent example of fallacy of equivocation. The two portions of the statement are factual whether the word rare has two distinct and similar meanings.

Another example to describe this fallacy is Tom claim to believe Thou shall not kill commandment. However, Tom eats meat that usually involves killing animals, and he also eats carrots for his food. The conclusion to this premise is that Tom is a hypocrite who is violating a rule that he claims to believe. The word Kill is an equivocation. When looking at the commandment, thou shall not kill refers to killing people where it can be translated as murder forbidding wrongful killing or illegally killing people. Therefore, this commandment is not violated by killing plants and non human animals. In order to spot fallacy of equivocation, a person is required to be sensitive to the many meanings and the subtle nuances that the phrase or word can have.

Fallacy of amphiboly

A fallacy of amphiboly is an error in fallacy or logic which tends to arise from misunderstanding or ambiguity because of grammar and usually through wrong choice of a word or punctuation (Jacob, 2012). A fallacy of amphiboly can be utilized on purpose or it might happen accidentally because of a language that is used without editing, or hastily. The nature of the fallacy of amphiboly is ambiguity meaning that the argument that is supported by the fallacy can be argued against through addressing the different possible meanings. This fallacy can be used to great comedic effect as it plays an ambiguity for purposes of comedic. Comedians are considered as often using the fallacy of amphiboly as the ambiguity can be used in creating the comedy in a joke (Marenborn 2007). The improper use of pronouns and punctuations is normally responsible of causing the fallacy of amphiboly.

A good example that can be used in showing the fallacy of amphiboly is the statement the surgeon wanted to operate the patient, but he was not ready. The word ‘he’ in this statement is ambiguous, which could refer to the patient or the surgeon. The word has a tremendous effect on the meaning of this sentence. This is a statement that has two meanings, and it can easily result to an argument or debate where the ambiguous pronoun has masked the real meaning of the sentence.


The fallacy of amphiboly can be similar to the fallacy of equivocation although there is a difference between these two fallacies. The fallacy of amphiboly normally occurs because of grammatical problem, which tend to create the possibility of confusion or ambiguity. On the other hand, fallacy of equivocation is ambiguity which occurs because of the poor choice of word. This ambiguity happens when a person uses a word that he feels has a particular meaning that may have numerous meanings, which can be used to point out the weaknesses in a certain argument. The fallacy of equivocation and amphiboly create ambiguous meanings in a statement, and they should be clarified as part of the argument.


Marenborn, J (2007). The many roots of medieval logic BRILL
Hurley, P (2008). A concise introduction to logic Cengage Learning
Jacob, V (2012). Informal logical fallacies University Press of America
Engel, M (1994). Fallacies and pitfalls of language Dover publications

Read 1156 times

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter all the required information, indicated by an asterisk (*). HTML code is not allowed.

2014 Fallacies.
Powered by Joomla 1.7 Templates
Trusted Site Seal Comodo SSL Certificate SSL