The Foundations of Logic

People have been participating in debates since the beginning of time. It is a wonderful tool that humans have developed over the millennia to communicate ideas in hopes of reaching an amicable and constructive conclusion. However, in my experience, individuals who partake in these discourses often fail to use logic. You will sometimes even encounter the saying…

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Cherry Picking

An informal fallacy where selected evidence is presented that supports the position of the argument, while contrary evidence is withheld. This is done in an attempt to make the argument more persuasive to an audience. Moreover, the greater the volume or strength of the evidence withheld dictates how….

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Appeal to Nature

An informal fallacy where you argue that because something is “natural” it is therefore good, better, ideal, etc. While it is true that there are things in this world that are considered “natural” and also fall into the “good “ category (e.g., clean air), this isn't always the case (e.g., earthquakes). Naturalness itself doesn't automatically imply good or bad….

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Principle of Charity

The Principle of Charity demands that one interprets a speaker's statement(s) in the most rational way possible. In other words, when ascribing to this principle, you must consider the strongest possible interpretation of your fellow interlocutor's argument before subjecting it to evaluation. The overarching goal of this methodological principle is to….

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Dunning-Kruger Effect

A type of cognitive bias where people fail to adequately assess their level of competence or incompetence. Individuals of low ability experience illusory superiority (i.e., an overestimation of one's own qualities and abilities in relation to the same qualities and abilities of others) and incorrectly assess their cognition at a level greater than it is. In other words….

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Ad Hominem

A type of informal fallacy where you attack the person making the argument instead of the argument itself. This can take the form of blatantly attacking someone in the form of name calling or more subtly attacking an individual’s character in an attempt….

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Scientific Method

The scientific method is a process implemented in experimentation that is used to answer questions surrounding an observation. However, this is a loose definition as scientists often will modify this process when direct experimentation is not available. For example, scientists studying climate change over large time periods cannot fast-forward time to….

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Availability Heuristic

A type of cognitive bias where your judgments are influenced by what most easily comes to mind. How emotionally powerful, eccentric, or recent your memories are can make them more relevant to you. For example, when we see a news report about a shark attack or a plane crash, it can make us believe that….

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Slippery Slope

A type of formal fallacy where a small first event is suggested to lead to another more significant event, which then leads to an even more significant event, and so on, until some ultimate, extreme event is reached. The connections between each significant event are likely related, but….

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The Logical Fallacy & When to Reject an Argument

The word “fallacy” comes from “fallacia” in Latin which means “deceit, trick, deception.” However, the more modern definition for logical fallacies is “faulty reasoning as a result of neglecting the rules of logic” or, more succinctly, just “an error in reasoning.” These errors can be found ubiquitously throughout our society as they are often part of a bad argument. As I've bemoaned previously…..

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What is a Good Argument?

As you are now familiar with the structure of an argument, there are now finer details that need to be addressed. First, arguments can primarily be categorized as either deductive or inductive, which derive their names from the types of reasoning used to construct them. Second, we'll discuss the concepts of validity and soundness for deductive arguments. Next, concerning inductive arguments….

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