Skip to main content
Humanities Libertexts

4.5.5: The Detection of Fallacies in Ordinary Language

  • Page ID
  • 17 The Detection of Fallacies in Ordinary Language31

    Fallacies occur constantly, and there is no better place to see them in a political debate. Observe 5 minutes of any political debate between 2 or more candidates and do the following:

    1) When a fallacy is said, pause the video, mark down the fallacy by noting what type of fallacy it is. 2) Identify the conclusion that the person was trying to reach and the premises being used to reach that conclusion. 3) Why do you think the fallacy was committed? Was it on accident or on purpose? 4) Is there a way of fixing the argument to avoid fallacies? 5) Did committing the fallacy hurt the candidate’s overall strength in the debate? Why or why not?

    You should have at least 20 fallacies after 5 minutes if you were paying close attention. Yes, that’s how common fallacies are even for the best orators.

    Here is an excellent visual example of recognizing fallacies in real life. It is too large and complicated to be printed here, but it is a categorization of fallacies in a paper written against Same Sex Marriage by a Catholic Bishop. It is a very detailed and careful analysis and is a good example of just how many fallacies are committed in public debates and how committing the argument itself may sound appealing to many people before recognizing the extent to which the argument is fallacious: