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What is a Fallacy?

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When the premises of an argument fail to support its conclusion we say that the reasoning is bad; the argument is said to be fallacious. In one very general sense of the term, any error in reasoning is a fallacy. As logicians commonly use that term, however; it designates not any errors in reasoning, but typical errors—mistakes in reasoning whose common pattern can be detected.
In this narrow sense, each fallacy is a type of incorrect argument. As argument in which a mistake of that type appears is said to commit that fallacy. Different arguments may contain or commit the same fallacy, that is, they may exhibit the same kind of mistake in reasoning. We also say that a regiment that commits a fallacy of a given type is itself a fallacy—because it is an example of that typical mistake.
There are many kinds of mistakes in argument—but fallacies are of special interest because they are known to be deceptive; any of us may be fooled by them. We therefore define a fallacy as a type of argument tha ,may seem to be correct but that proves, on examination, not to be so. The traps that fallacies set can be avoided when the kinds of reasoning mistake they make are well understood.



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