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Old 2013-01-27, 22:35   Link #1
ArchmageXin
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Debate question

I have an question in regard to debates and I am wondering if someone can help.

We know sometimes people use logical fallacies (Ad homien, Strawman, tu quoque, etc) which make their statement invalid.

I.E

Your statement is false cause you are gay. (no offense to gays out there)

^ Which is an ad homien attack.

Now the question is, if someone just going around using logical fallacies terms without actually refuting the statement, is there an actual counter term?

I.E

A. Country X is terrible because they use chemical weapons in War.

B. But Country Y and Z also use chemical weapons, even on their own population! Are they not terrible?

A LOL tu quoque.



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Old 2013-01-27, 23:18   Link #2
LeoXiao
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I've encountered this too, usually it seems like something people like to bring up in order to sound smart. On the Internet, this is a good sign that the opposing party's head is stuck too far up their ass to get anything out of the debate, meaning you should disengage. The problem is that they invoke something like "logical fallacy" when in fact it doesn't really hold water. If they explained why exactly they were using it it would be fine, but they don't.

It is in such situations that I find myself unbelievably in agreement with Mao Zedong, who said, "[the intellectuals] ought to be aware of the truth that actually many so-called intellectuals are, relatively speaking, quite ignorant and the workers and farmers sometimes know more than they do."

Last edited by LeoXiao; 2013-01-27 at 23:33.
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Old 2013-01-27, 23:29   Link #3
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Indeed. If someone is going to claim you committed a logical fallacy, they have the burden to show exactly where you committed and how. Not everything that might be considered a logical fallacy, really is one.

For instance, one favorite is "correlation does not equal causation." They typically use this to dismiss you bringing up anything that might be related, as a way to dismiss your argument. But as XKCD points out on correlation, that doesn't automatically dismiss the point.

In short, demand they explain how you committed the alleged fallacy, or you will consider the accusations false and retracted. And if someone does resort to ad hominem, well, that pretty much destroys all their arguments. I find that, if someone has to resort to attacking you as a person, stating things about you that you know aren't true, then they've as good as admitted they have no good arguments. Going after you personally is their last gasp resort.

So, not enough to know about a fallacy and casually toss it out in an argument. They have to be ready to explain how it applies. This latter part is where most fail.
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Old 2013-01-28, 03:26   Link #4
DonQuigleone
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Accusing a person of committing fallacies isn't a good way to "win" an argument, I find. Just address the point without ever actually saying the F word. Saying the F word will just make them angry.

And they may not be making a fallacy either. A lot of people assume their "opponent" is committing a fallacy, when in fact the opponent is right, and they're wrong. Always keep in mind the possibility that you might be wrong.

More to the point, I find this essay, to be informative reading.
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Old 2013-01-28, 10:51   Link #5
solidguy
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^Yeah the principle of charity comes into play. Although its hard sometimes to do your opponent a favour like charity it is necessary for a good, intellectually fruitful debate. I've noticed people will be very uncharitable towards your arguments just to find something to attack when you didn't really mean what they've interpreted but you don't have the time to correct them on every single point so you end up never really addressing the core issue of the debate. sigh. I often debate to learn new things, some others debate to be right even when they may not be so. Finger pointy fallacies is a kinda safety mechanism for them to fall back on to keep their ego's unchecked.
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Old 2013-01-28, 11:15   Link #6
erneiz_hyde
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There is this "fallacy fallacy".

Quote:
This fallacy's use is staggeringly common during internet debates, where pseudo-intellectualism reigns supreme. A person will seek out and attack any logical fallacy you use and dismiss your argument out of hand, without ever addressing the proposition. Fairly often, you might spot someone who will not even bother explaining why the fallacy is appropriate in that context. Some of the possible causes of this phenomena include: they are being lazy and are just arguing by assertion, they are trying to distract from their argument and are poisoning the well, or they learnt a fancy new Latin phrase and want to use it regardless of its applicability. If they have incorrectly used the fallacy then they have committed the fallacy fallacy fallacy.
But as you can see in that article, this fallacy can accuse itself ad infinitum.
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Old 2013-01-28, 11:19   Link #7
ArchmageXin
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Major propz. Thanks!
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Old 2013-01-28, 12:30   Link #8
willx
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erneiz_hyde View Post
But as you can see in that article, this fallacy can accuse itself ad infinitum.
Agreed, this happens more often than not -- I think the worst part of internet discourse is ultimately the same issues I have when I argue with my fiance -- no issue is black/white .. they're all grey, many shades of grey (no not that one) but people tend to argue about them as if they were so simple.

I think everyone would get along better if every single "counter argument" started with: "That's a good point because of X, Y and Z.."

@Archmagexin -- The fallacy you're looking for above would be categorized as Argument from Fallacy (which is the same as the Fallacy Fallacy) posted above, but again .. the use of that fallacy still doesn't immediately counteract as you mentioned Tu quoque (Appeal to Hypocrisy)
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Last edited by willx; 2013-01-28 at 12:47.
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Old 2013-01-28, 12:53   Link #9
ArchmageXin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willx View Post
Agreed, this happens more often than not -- I think the worst part of internet discourse is ultimately the same issues I have when I argue with my fiance -- no issue is black/white .. they're all grey, many shades of grey (no not that one) but people tend to argue about them as if they were so simple.

I think everyone would get along better if every single "counter argument" started with: "That's a good point because of X, Y and Z.."

@Archmagexin -- The fallacy you're looking for above would be categorized as Argument from Fallacy (which is the same as the Fallacy Fallacy) posted above, but again .. the use of that fallacy still doesn't immediately counteract as you mentioned Tu quoque (Appeal to Hypocrisy)
I see. Wish I took a debate class in high school, lol.

The person I am going against does nothing but go around using latin terms without even bother to address the argument, and it kind of annoy me enough I came here to look for the experts. Thanks
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Old 2013-01-28, 12:59   Link #10
Xellos-_^
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchmageXin View Post
I have an question in regard to debates and I am wondering if someone can help.

We know sometimes people use logical fallacies (Ad homien, Strawman, tu quoque, etc) which make their statement invalid.

I.E

Your statement is false cause you are gay. (no offense to gays out there)

^ Which is an ad homien attack.

Now the question is, if someone just going around using logical fallacies terms without actually refuting the statement, is there an actual counter term?

I.E

A. Country X is terrible because they use chemical weapons in War.

B. But Country Y and Z also use chemical weapons, even on their own population! Are they not terrible?

A LOL tu quoque.



if it is available, use the Bellow Option.
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Old 2013-01-28, 13:03   Link #11
LeoXiao
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchmageXin View Post
I see. Wish I took a debate class in high school, lol.

The person I am going against does nothing but go around using latin terms without even bother to address the argument, and it kind of annoy me enough I came here to look for the experts. Thanks
If this is an Internet thing, just go away. It is not worth your time. If it is actually important, I wish you the best of luck.
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Old 2013-01-28, 13:15   Link #12
ArchmageXin
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Is not truly important--But It is helpful if I ran into similar situation again. It is easy to avoid things like Ad Homien or Strawman, but I never dealt with someone who would just say stuff like that.

For future reference, you know
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Old 2013-01-28, 13:39   Link #13
DonQuigleone
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Terms like Ad Hominem, tu quoque or Strawman should only be used when talking about debate, but not in a debate.

Accusing a person of any of these things often becomes a kind of "Ad hominem" in and of itself, as you're basically accusing the other person has poor logic, while not really resolving anything.

And it's very easy to misfire on a fallacies. There's a fine line between "Strawman" and "taking things to their logical conclusion". The former is indeed a fallacy, but the latter is a valid debate technique, going back to Socrates.
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Old 2013-02-01, 22:50   Link #14
solidguy
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Is there such a fallacy where X forces Y to take a position that s/he doesn't necessarily believe in and makes it the focus of an argument?

For example Y is arguing whether evidence exists that a bunny rabbit ate a carrot, and X asserts that Y must believe that the bunny ate the carrot when Y merely said that there is evidence for it. X then goes on to shape his entire argument around it, arguing something that is not what Y intended but Y cannot concede or he loses the debate?
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Old 2013-02-01, 23:01   Link #15
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It all depends on the context of the argument. In many cases, it is a proper debate tactic to force your opponent to follow their logic to it's ultimate conclusion, when you know that your opponent would definitely not agree to the ultimate conclusion.

I think what you are looking for, is the "slippery slope" fallacy, which depends on such context as to whether it is valid. Slippery Slope is used when you feel your opponent is arguing for a particular step, and you say that if we take that step, it will definitely lead to other steps which are not desirable (usually not desirable to either debater).

This works when you can show that such slippery slope things have actually happened in real life, ie, if someone argues that the best form of a leadership is to give one person all power, and they can do great things. But you rebut with "Yeah, but too many cases in history where one person gets all the power, end in dictatorships which are bad for the people." The slippery slope argument is correct here, because there is past historical evidence to suggest the slope arguments actually happen.

Where it doesn't work, is when you try to apply the slippery slope to an argument, where there is little to no evidence (or evidence that runs counter to it) that such steps actually will happen. Like if someone argues that banning alcohol is a slippery slope to tyranny. There is no evidence this is the case, and you can bring up a past example in the US, where the forces of liberty and freedom were such that the ban was later reversed. Therefore, the slippery slope fallacy is invalid in this case.

So, in short, depends on the argument and the evidence. At least, this is what I think is closest to what you are asking. Let me know if it doesn't seem to be the case. By using the slippery slope, you are forcing your opponent to either justify why we won't slide to the bottom of the slope, or to argue that reaching the bottom of the slope is not a bad thing.
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Old 2013-02-01, 23:27   Link #16
solidguy
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Context first...this was a twitter argument -_-

It was an argument over whether Jesus Christ actually existed. I said that there is evidence, historical, empirical evidence that Jesus existed which then lead to assumption that I actually believed he did. I never once claimed that the evidence was sufficient enough to prove that he existed nor that he was a divine entity. I then stated that despite all scientific advancements and discoveries we have made there is a POSSIBILITY that this man was indeed extraordinary (the resurrection)... something that flies in the face of logic and science... The burden of proof shifts to proving that this happened right? There is weak evidence to support this claim which is almost completely in the bible and i fully concede that the probability of this happening is slim to none, with a fat lean toward none.

Basically I was arguing whether there existed evidence of Jesus Christ whereas my opponent was arguing whether that evidence is sufficient enough to prove that not only did he exist but was divine. Is the burden of proof solely on Pro-Christ or is the burden shared? ie The opponent must proving some evidence debunking the resurrection...

To add even more context to the argument I was arguing an adamant atheist. I myself am agnostic and was questioning one of his statements to some Christian aswell as the manner he was belittling them. He said that being a Christian is completely illogical and ignorant, i simply disagreed with him. If there is evidence then there is grounds, however weak it may be there is an underlying logic. I wanted to show him that there is room for error in his statement and his confidence that he KNOWS the truth
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Old 2013-02-01, 23:39   Link #17
Qilin
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Well, these terms do make things easier if the person you're talking to actually knows what these fancy words even mean. I'm generally of the opinion that using such labels for fallacies (sans the common ones that everyone already should know like strawman, ad hominem, etc.) is lazy and, in a sense, condescending. In the end, nothing beats taking the trouble of explaining exactly why an argument is invalid or not.

My main beef with this is that it makes the practice of debate look like something reserved for philosophy or law majors when practically anyone with a decent grasp of their reasoning capabilities can participate in it. In all honesty, I don't like the term "debate" either because it simplifies an argument into a dichotomy, leaving little room for compromise between either side... though that's a different matter altogether.
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Old 2013-02-02, 04:28   Link #18
erneiz_hyde
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solidguy View Post
Is there such a fallacy where X forces Y to take a position that s/he doesn't necessarily believe in and makes it the focus of an argument?

For example Y is arguing whether evidence exists that a bunny rabbit ate a carrot, and X asserts that Y must believe that the bunny ate the carrot when Y merely said that there is evidence for it. X then goes on to shape his entire argument around it, arguing something that is not what Y intended but Y cannot concede or he loses the debate?
Sounds like a strawman (that succeeded). Even with your latest post, I still think it is one.
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Old 2013-02-03, 12:14   Link #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by solidguy View Post
Context first...this was a twitter argument -_-

It was an argument over whether Jesus Christ actually existed. I said that there is evidence, historical, empirical evidence that Jesus existed which then lead to assumption that I actually believed he did. I never once claimed that the evidence was sufficient enough to prove that he existed nor that he was a divine entity. I then stated that despite all scientific advancements and discoveries we have made there is a POSSIBILITY that this man was indeed extraordinary (the resurrection)... something that flies in the face of logic and science... The burden of proof shifts to proving that this happened right? There is weak evidence to support this claim which is almost completely in the bible and i fully concede that the probability of this happening is slim to none, with a fat lean toward none.

Basically I was arguing whether there existed evidence of Jesus Christ whereas my opponent was arguing whether that evidence is sufficient enough to prove that not only did he exist but was divine. Is the burden of proof solely on Pro-Christ or is the burden shared? ie The opponent must proving some evidence debunking the resurrection...

To add even more context to the argument I was arguing an adamant atheist. I myself am agnostic and was questioning one of his statements to some Christian aswell as the manner he was belittling them. He said that being a Christian is completely illogical and ignorant, i simply disagreed with him. If there is evidence then there is grounds, however weak it may be there is an underlying logic. I wanted to show him that there is room for error in his statement and his confidence that he KNOWS the truth
Religious arguments are always fun, heh. But there are two rules of thumb I go by in a debate/argument/discussion/what have you:

1. You cannot prove a negative. If I say, "There has never been a case of someone coming back from the dead" and someone says "Prove it!" I can't. Because in order to prove it, I would have to prove that every single person who ever lived, actually stayed dead. And since I lack records relating to everyone, it is impossible to prove. And one single case of someone coming back to the dead is enough to disprove my hypothesis.

2. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Relating to the above, but if someone claims something that is far out of what we as a society know, then the burden of proof is on them to prove it. Taking my example above, we as a society generally believe coming back from the dead is impossible. So if someone says it is possible, they must be the ones to prove that it does. Until that time, my statement of "There has never been a case of someone coming back from the dead" remains true and I don't have to prove it.

In all other cases, it depends on where the evidence leans, and this is why the scientific mindset is important. The scientific method provides a useful guideline for determining where the truth might ultimately lie. In your argument, there are a couple of claims:

#1. That Jesus existed as a person
#2. That he miraculous things like come back from the dead

As a scientist, we indeed have some archeological evidence that someone named Jesus did indeed exist. So a scientist would tend to believe that first claim. As for the second, those are extraordinary claims, and so would require extraordinary evidence, which we do not have. So a scientist would hold that claim in doubt until someone could prove it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qilin View Post
Well, these terms do make things easier if the person you're talking to actually knows what these fancy words even mean. I'm generally of the opinion that using such labels for fallacies (sans the common ones that everyone already should know like strawman, ad hominem, etc.) is lazy and, in a sense, condescending. In the end, nothing beats taking the trouble of explaining exactly why an argument is invalid or not.

My main beef with this is that it makes the practice of debate look like something reserved for philosophy or law majors when practically anyone with a decent grasp of their reasoning capabilities can participate in it. In all honesty, I don't like the term "debate" either because it simplifies an argument into a dichotomy, leaving little room for compromise between either side... though that's a different matter altogether.
If you were going to play football, would you respect the rules of the game that everyone else plays by? Would you, after being tackled with the ball, promptly get up and run for the endzone, declaring that you just scored a touchdown? You may think you did, but everyone else might have something to say about it.

That is not an exact analogy, but the rules of football are there for a reason. Debate has it's own rules, which is why it is taught in debate classes. If the class is taught well, you learn *why* the fallacies are important, and *how* exactly you argue your points. In a good debate, your mind is open enough to realize when someone has pointed out a weakness you didn't see. But that can also serve as a way to help you make your argument stronger, if you can then cover that weakness with an argument that overrides the fallacies.

And the fallacies aren't perfect or hard and fast rules; they are there as guidelines to guide you in making a coherent argument against any line of thought. I'd agree that it is lazy for people to just spout out "Strawman! Correlation does not equal causation!" and then refusing to listen anymore. Because you are required to point out how your opponent has committed the fallacy, and then... this is the most important part... allow the opponent to make the case as to why the fallacy should *not* apply.

This is an anime forum, and we watch a lot of anime where the main character has a rival. And it is the repeated conflict between the two characters that makes both stronger. In the same way, learning how to "fight" in a debate with an opponent, will make you stronger in that arena as well. But if you refuse to learn how to exercise and attack and defend properly, you won't get very good at it.

If you make an argument, and I say it does not apply because you are a poopy head, I think you'd agree my argument is poor. The fallacy for that is "ad hominem" which essentially means I ignored your argument totally in favor of a personal attack. Fallacies are just fancy names and explanations given to concepts that you already know are bad to use in a debate/argument/discussion/etc. Without them, I could dismiss all your arguments by calling you names, as could everyone else. And if that was the case, how would we ever discuss anything?

Lastly, I am going to link to an amusing short story that I encourage people to read, as it addresses fallacies and arguments, as a matter of learning how to think. It's called Love is a Fallacy and details a smart guy who tries to teach an air-headed girl to think using the fallacies (which are an offshoot of logic)... and she starts to learn a bit too well, heh.
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Old 2013-02-04, 00:38   Link #20
solidguy
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I loved that story!
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