When the premise of the argument is irrelevant to the conclusion, we call it a flawed argument. The premises may be true to the other true, imperative, and pertinent to other conclusions. But the argument is bad if the premises are not relevant to the conclusion we care about. You commit the fallacy of irrelevant premise when you present a premise to support the conclusion but the premise is irrelevant to the conclusion. Let’s dig deep and find out What Are The Fallacies Of Irrelevant Premises.
Why Do People Commit The Fallacy Of Irrelevant Premises?
When you lack reasons to back your conclusion, you feel inclined to use irrelevant premises to divert attention from the fact that your arguments for your viewpoint are flawed. This works especially well if the irrelevant reasons are emotional as these make it easier to focus on things that are irrelevant to the main problem.
Even when a response appears to be completely unrelated, it can still serve to divert attention from the real problem. Humorous remarks, mockery, sarcasm, flattery, insults, and similar tactics can draw attention away from the main issue. A joke can be especially persuasive if you argue that it isn’t relevant. You might be accused of not having a sense of humor. But you can enjoy the joke and then go back to the problem.
Fallacies Of Irrelevant Premises
It refers to when you reject or accept a claim based on its origin rather than its quality. Instead of analyzing the argument, the fallacy shifts the focus to the origin in an attempt to impugn or strengthen it. This fallacy is similar to the ad hominem fallacy in that both divert attention away from the argument to avoid having to judge it on its own merits.
Example: Russel cannot believe anything that his doctor advises him because his doctor is overweight himself.
The fallacy of composition involves applying attributes from one part of an object or class to the entire object or class. It argues that because each part has some characteristic, the whole must necessarily have that characteristic as well. It is a fallacy because not everything true of part of an object is true of that entire object.
Example: The atoms that comprise the human body are invisible. As a result, the human body is also invisible.
It refers to an attribute given to a class as a whole, presuming that every component possesses the same property as the whole. These can be real things, ideas, or social groups. People often make false claims by lumping parts of a whole together and assuming that each component has a particular quality by default. It can be applicable to a variety of claims and arguments, such as the discussion of various religions.
Example: If this machine is heavy then all of the parts of this machine must also be heavy.
Appeal to the person
This fallacy occurs when you attack the person or some aspect of the person making the argument instead of addressing someone’s argument or position. The false accusation may also be made against institutional or group membership.
Example: Nothing Fred says about welfare reform is credible. He’s a staunch socialist.
Equivocation is the use of ambiguous or imprecise language, especially when the goal is to confuse or deceive a listener. It can be challenging to recognize when the meaning has changed.
Example: Everyone acknowledges that a fetus is a human being. Every human being has the right to life. As a result, a fetus has a right to life.
Appeal to popularity
It is an argument that is usually delivered in an emotionally charged manner and is based on widely held opinions, values, or prejudices. It is also called argumentum ad populum. Another phrase frequently used to describe a large group of people in agreement as a legitimate justification or argument is “appeal to the majority.”
Example: The war is, of course, justified. Everyone believes it is justifiable.
Appeal to tradition
It argues that when something is old, it somehow increases the value or truth of the proposition under consideration. People have a strong tendency toward conservatism, which means that they prefer to keep practices and habits that appear to work rather than replace them with new ideas. Sticking with what works isn’t a problem; insisting on a certain way of doing things simply because it’s traditional or old is a problem, and it’s a fallacy in a logical argument.
Example: Acupuncture has been used in China for over a thousand years. It has to work.
Appeal to ignorance
It is based on the idea that a claim must be true if it cannot be proven to be false or false if it cannot be proven to be true. The argument from ignorance is also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam.
Example: Nobody has proven that ghosts do not exist, so they must be genuine.
Appeal to emotion
It is characterized by the manipulation of the recipient’s emotions to win an argument, especially in the absence of factual evidence. Fear, envy, hatred, pity, and pride are all examples of emotional appeals. It’s important to note that a logically coherent argument can sometimes elicit emotion or have an emotional component, but the problem and fallacy arise when emotion is used instead of a logical argument or obscure the fact that no compelling rational reason exists for one’s position.
Example: You should hire me for this position. My wife will leave me if I don’t find work soon.
It is a remark that draws attention away from the main point of an argument or discussion. It is also known as a decoy. A red herring is a detail or remark inserted into a discussion, either intentionally or unintentionally, that diverts attention away from the main topic. The red herring is always irrelevant and frequently emotional. Participants in the discussion follow the red herring and forget what they were originally discussing; in fact, they may never return to their original topic.
Example: Every woman should be able to have an abortion on demand. Anti-abortion activists obstruct access to abortion clinics.
A straw man fallacy occurs when an opponent’s argument is exaggerated or misrepresented to be easily attacked or refuted. The technique frequently removes quotes from context or incorrectly paraphrases or summarises an opponent’s position. The attacker then claims to have beaten the real thing after “defeating” the position.
Example: The new senator opposes the military spending bill, claiming that it is excessively expensive. Why does he feel the need to reduce everything down to the bone?
The Ending Note
Learning about fallacies of irrelevant premises enables you to avoid using an impertinent premise to support your argument. It also allows you to critically assess other arguments on the basis of your knowledge of fallacies.