Informal fallacies are so-called because their flaws do not manifest themselves in their logical form. Instead, to understand what is wrong with them, we must evaluate the body of the argument. And hence whether the reasoning inside the argument fits our requirements —relevant information and acceptable premises. The question now is what are fallacies of relevance and how many different kinds there are.
The reasoning can go wrong in a variety of ways. A formal error occurs when the form of an argument is flawed. Reasoning errors are not frequently produced by the form of the argument.
Rather, there is generally an issue with the link between the evidence in the premises and the conclusion. Informal fallacies are flaws in the argument’s content, which might be inductive or deductive.
What are Fallacies of Relevance?
The premises may be psychologically significant, but they are not logically relevant to the conclusion. Logically relevant premises assist us in seeing that the conclusion is correct. We have grounds to suppose that the conclusion is correct in this sense. Psychologically relevant premises may provide some reason to assume the conclusion is correct. But not because they assist us in seeing that the conclusion is correct.
The arguer gives evidence that is irrelevant to rationally demonstrate their position in a fallacy of relevance. The reason why fallacies of relevance persist is that the data appears relevant—that is, it feels relevant. Relevance fallacies prey on our preferences and dislikes.
Failure To Take Into Account Relevant Considerations
For example, it is not uncommon for us to overlook or minimize criticisms simply because we do not agree with them, even if such critiques are legitimate. Or we may be tempted to make hasty conclusions in the belief that our decisions are the best. When, in fact, we should investigate the problem more thoroughly and conduct more research.
Of course, if we fail to examine significant information merely because we are unaware of it, this is not a fallacy.
Example of Fallacies of Relevance
As we move from what are the fallacies of relevance to examples of fallacies of relevance, keep in mind that these fallacies rely on the use of information that appears important to proving the conclusion but isn’t actually relevant after all. They frequently use our emotional reactions to specific circumstances and issues, and they may be highly powerful in persuading us. They work so well at convincing us of their conclusions because of the nature of the human mind – even though we are capable of thinking about things coolly and logically, we frequently jump to emotional conclusions and then rely on our cognitive abilities to rationalize decisions and conclusions we have already made.
Appeal to Emotion
Emotional appeals can target a wide range of emotions, from fear to pity, and from love and compassion to hatred and repulsion. Emotional appeals of any type are often irrelevant in proving the conclusion. When someone’s plea to you to accept their claim is accepted only because it arouses your sentiments of wrath, fear, sadness, love, indignation, pity, pride, sexuality, compassion, relief, and so on. Your reasoning involves the Fallacy of Appeal to Emotions.
Ad Hominem Attacks
This fallacy is a Latin phrase that means “against the person.” We sometimes call it an “abusive fallacy” or “personal attack.” This common fallacy focuses on the individual making the argument’s personal inconsistencies in an attempt to invalidate it. People who employ this method do not answer directly to their opponent’s argument, but instead, present extrinsic reasons why they should not trust whatever he or she says. This is certainly incorrect since we should be concerned with the argument and its truth and soundness, not with the person from whom the argument is coming.
Appeal to Authority
This is sometimes referred to as an “appeal to inappropriate authority.” Appealing to authority is a typical method of persuading others. But why do we believe authorities in the first place? Because they are in charge? In this instance, one could ask why they are even called authority. However, if they have evidence to back up their assertions, why don’t we just see for ourselves if they are correct or not? The judgment of someone famous or successful in another field is assumed to ensure the truth of a conclusion in an appeal to authority.
The straw man fallacy occurs when an arguer alters an opponent’s argument. In order to more readily attack it. Then demolishes the distorted argument and concludes that the opponent’s true argument has been destroyed. By doing so, the arguer is said to have constructed a straw man and knocked it down. Only to discover that the actual man (opposing argument) has also been knocked down.
When the straw man fallacy occurs, readers should bear two things in mind. First, they must attempt to discover the original point of the critic. Second, they should investigate what went wrong in the argument’s portrayal. Is the critic exaggerating the original argument, or has he inserted a new premise that the original argument does not assume?
A red herring is a stinky fish that we use to train hunting hounds to track odors by dragging it along a trail as exercise. So the fallacy derives its name from the fact that it deceives individuals into taking a different line of reasoning than the one at hand. You may be unclear as to how someone may get away with merely shifting the subject. Red herrings are most effective when the focus goes to something distantly related.
The Appeal to Pity
An appeal to pity is a fallacy in which someone attempts to gain support for an argument or viewpoint by abusing his or her opponent’s sentiments of sympathy or guilt. It is a specific type of emotional appeal in which the audience’s benevolence and mercy are specifically evoked. An appeal to pity attempts to gain approval by emphasizing the unfavorable repercussions. That might otherwise befall the speaker and others, for whom we would feel sad. Again, even if all of the premises are correct, the conclusion may be erroneous. (That is, perhaps I should be handed the ticket), therefore the argument is flawed.
The Ending Note
Hopefully, you now understand what are fallacies of relevance and their types. The key to analyzing an argument is deciding if the argument’s appeal is important to the conclusion.
A logical or empirical relationship establishes relevance. A strong critical thinker will present arguments with logically significant premises to their conclusions.
A relevance fallacy occurs when the premises of an argument are not logically relevant to the truth of the conclusion. They might, however, be psychologically significant, leading us to believe that the argument is valid when it is not.