Fallacies from Chapter 3 - 5469
argue for contradictory premises or for contradictory conclusions
A and not A
it's Not that it's A, it's just that it's A
How to Explain
State which words are opposite in meaning to show the contradiction
It's not that you're stupid. It's just that you're dumb.
1. Inconsistency involves a contradiction, that is, saying one thing and then saying the opposite. It usually involves different words with opposite meanings.
2. Inconsistency means to argue from contradictory premises or to argue for contradicting conclusions. If two premises contradict each other then one must be false.
3. Types of inconsistency:
a. in the same sentence
b. in the same argument or passage
c. over time while not explaining the switch in viewpoint
d. within the same organization
e. hypocrisy (a gap between words and actions; that is, someone says one thing and then does the opposite).
4. Due to vagueness or ambiguity, many people or organizations get away with inconsistency through a reinterpretation of their statements.
5. Inconsistency does NOT mean we have to stay fixed with a certain position when new evidence arises. Example: A person who is pro-choice on abortion, and after much reflection and studying of the evidence decides to be pro-life. (or vice-versa)
6. In politics, inconsistency is exhibited in these phrases: flip-flopping, blowing in the wind, or waffling on the issues.
1. It's not that you're stupid. It's just that you're dumb.
Analysis: Note that this looks like begging the question, but it is NOT, because 'not stupid' and 'dumb' are opposites and thus contradict each other.
2. Donna: "What is your opinion about the abortion issue?"
Gary: "I tend not to give out my opinion on such matters. On the other hand, I think abortion is wrong.
Analysis: Gary contradicts himself by saying he doesn't give his opinion on such matters and then proceeds to give his opinion.
3. Henry Kissinger said on the NewsHour program that Iraq was not a mess and then proceeded to describe a mess.
Analysis: Henry contradicted himself.
4. Hyatt Regency: "We are pleased to confirm your reservation. It will be held on a space to space basis."
Analysis: 'held on a space to space basis' contradicts 'confirm your reservation'.
5. Mail order ad: "Special collector's edition. Priceless recordings - $6.99 per CD".
Analysis: Priceless contradicts only $6.99.
6. A business recruiter from Nevada touring California: “We’re not stealing jobs, we’re just redistributing the locations of employment."
Analysis: Stealing jobs is almost the same as 'redistributing the locations of employment'. So, 'not stealing jobs' makes it close to a contradiction.
7. I am totally opposed to the death penalty but I believe the Governor made the right decision to allow this execution.
Analysis: This is an obvious contradiction.
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Last updated: 15:36 on 30 January 2013
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