Fallacious Reasoning pt.1 / The Need for Ethics



Several things can make an argument fallacious including an appeal to an authority that is irrelevant, inconsistencies in arguments, straw man arguments, attacking a false dilemma, begging the question, using a questionable premise, overlooking evidence, and accepting a token gesture in lieu of an actual action. 

The comic above depicts someone using a straw man argument. A straw man fallacy occurs when someone misrepresents their opponent’s position and attacks that position rather than the actual one. In the comic the man attacks his boss’s false belief that certification is a waste of time instead of addressing the question that his boss actually asked which was what he was getting certified for. Even though the man looks completely insane, he accomplishes what he wanted to by using the straw man argument because he has distracted his boss from the fact that he didn’t get any work done that week. Straw man fallacies are often seen in political campaigns, usually to distract the voters from real issues by focusing their attention on something irrelevant but controversial.

The book Thinking Critically About Ethical Issues says there is a need for ethics because of they determine how people approach everyday decisions even if people don’t always realize that ethics are affecting their decision making. Ethics both interact and at times conflict with laws and religion.


The link above is an article written by a professor of ethics at the Graduate Theological Union at Cal Berkeley. In it he argues that there is a middle ground between ethics and religion and that what most accurately depicts this are Aristotle’s “virtues” including  prudence, reason, accommodation, compromise, moderation, wisdom, honesty, and truthfulness. 



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