Friday, September 9, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Diminished Responsibility!

This fallacy occurs when we argue that our behavior should be excused because of impaired judgment, e.g. telling your teacher that they should grade your exam leniently because you were hung over and “it’s not my fault.” It is a contemporary fallacy that has arisen out of the misappropriation of the American legal concept, “diminished capacity” (that punishment for criminal acts should be decreased if the criminal’s judgment was impaired and thus would not have committed the crime under normal conditions). While being drunk may mean that you aren’t charged with first degree murder, it doesn’t mean that you are free of guilt or can’t be charged with second degree murder, and it doesn’t make the consequences of your actions any less severe. Likewise, the fact that you were hungover doesn’t somehow make your answers to your test less incorrect, and you must still live with the consequences of failing; your poor judgment in getting drunk the night before the test doesn’t excuse your performance.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy is...Appeal to Spite!

This fallacy occurs when someone uses existing spiteful and bitter feelings in order to dismiss an opponent’s position. Instead of actually evaluating evidence for the opponent’s position, they are exploiting the emotions of those listening in order convince them. We do this to ourselves if we justify disagreeing with someone out of existing spite instead of examining the issues. This is especially useful when combined with stereotypes (the overgeneralization fallacy) toward a particular demographic. For example, saying that you can never vote for a career politician because they are all untrustworthy combines stereotyping (all politicians are untrustworthy) with the appeal for spite (a general dislike for politicians).