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Main Claim: Simply 100% Whole-Leaf Natural Tobacco.

 “You'll never find any additives in our tobacco. What you see is what you get. Simply 100% whole-leaf natural tobacco. True authentic tobacco taste. It's only natural”. This is taken from an advert for American Spirit cigarettes, published in Discover Magazine, in 2007. Tobacco is one of the cigarettes enjoyed by many smokers. Additives are the inclusions to the natural product that make it more appealing and satisfying. Some of the additives are preservatives and they play a great role in the taste of tobacco. However, the advert does not recognize the role played by the additives. It intends to convince us that natural things are always the best. But unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Basing on such kind of advert, it is essential to try and evaluate the perception of natural and unnatural things by people. Of course, many people may argue that natural things are somehow far much better that the unnatural things. Rarely do people try to investigate and explain the principles of natural things being better. Unfortunately, if we take a look on what some people actually do, the principle seems to be the assumption that dictates the behavior of most people. For instance, let us consider the popularity of most of the “natural remedies”. Most if not all people will more than often prefer taking “natural” remedies to taking “artificial” ones.  Likewise, people always have a tendency of preferring food that has natural ingredients.

But one may ask how to classify natural things and unnatural things? This, therefore, presents an obvious problem of characterizing the natural and the unnatural things. One concept that we need to understand is the vagueness of the term “natural”. For example, is it “natural” if human beings use fire? May be or may be not. Then, do we say it is “natural” for people to wear clothes? The answer may be either yes or no. Despite this, the idea of naturalness does not depict in any way that something is useful or useless. This is due to the fact that there are many cases where a clear-cut exists between “natural” and “unnatural”. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether appealing to nature basing on borderline case is logical. This is because it is not clearly elaborated whether one of the assumptions is true or not.

Nevertheless, for now, let us put aside doubts of characterizing the natural and unnatural categories. Even if we can reach a consensus that some things are natural while others are unnatural, what is next then? The answer is: nothing. To the best of the existing knowledge, there are no facts that suppose that what is natural is better as compared to unnatural.

Another challenge is the use of the word “natural,” as it is associated more with positive evaluation like the word “normal”. Therefore, according to the existing fallacy, to call something natural goes beyond description. It is in fact praising it. To certain extend, this gives an explanation as to why sometimes it sounds odd calling some things “natural” while others “unnatural”. Let us take an example of wearing shoes. It will be unnatural to put on shoes, but most people, if not all, will condemn the practice. Therefore, basing on this reasoning, calling something “natural” and going further to conclude that it is good calls for more questions. There is a need also to appreciate that not all “natural” things are safe. For instance, in the advert, it is said: “Simply 100% whole-leaf natural tobacco”. It is like assuming that the tobacco does not have any negative side effects. But, for sure, we know that tobacco is one of the leading causes of lung cancers. It is, in fact, the natural ingredients in tobacco that cause the cancer but not the additives. This means that the media is only using that fallacy of natural things being good to advertise its products.

However, one may be still tempted to believe that there is something that is right when we talk of nature. For example, a diet that is full of natural foods like vegetables, whole grains, and fruits would be probably better than a diet based on artificial foods such as sausages, candies, and pastries. More so, it is assumed that a natural lifestyle - that is the one based on exercises and natural diet - is much healthier as compared to a sedentary life - that is the one spent watching TV and eating chunky.

In conclusion, the forms of argument presented in the above paragraphs can be treated as the “rules of thumb” that admit some exceptions, though still reliable. Basing on this view, the idea that something is either natural or unnatural will only give it the presumptions of goodness and badness respectively. It should be noted that that presumptions can be withdrawn by any contradicting evidence. Ignoring or dismissing such evidences would be committing a fallacy of sweeping generalization. In conclusion, the appeal to nature is only useful in some limited areas like diet and lifestyle.

FALLACY OF VAGUENESS

MAIN CLAIM: “The acceptance of abortion does not end with the killing of unborn human life. The hypothesis is according to. He argues that abortion goes on to affect the attitude one will have towards all aspects of human life. He reports that this is most obvious in how quickly, following the acceptance of abortion, comes the acceptance of infanticide%u2015the killing of babies who after birth do not come up to someone's standard of life worthy to be lived%u2015and then on to euthanasia of the aged. According to him, “If human life can be taken before birth, there is no logical reason why human life cannot be taken after birth”.

Abortion is a termination of the pregnancy by prematurely killing the unborn child in the process. Many people support the idea though, as expected, several contradictions have also emerged. Abortion has been a topic of great debate since time immemorial. Most medical professionals propose legalizing of abortion. This has been unwelcomed by church officials, who argue that abortion is killing the unborn while the holly books are against taking away of human life. Infanticide is closely related to abortion. The only difference is that the child is allowed to be born and, in case it happens that the child does not meet the standards of life worthy to be lived, it is killed. Perhaps the main reason of practicing infanticide is to eliminate species that have undergone mutations. To some extent, it can be viewed as a nice idea since it eliminates the multiplication of undesired traits. But the only question will be to what extent will one be considered the right candidate for infanticide? What will be the real indications for infanticide? As for euthanasia, the terminally ill person, who cannot make decisions on his/her own, is killed as a sign of mercy. This aims to alleviate the pains that the hopeless sick person is undergoing.

Though Schaeffer’s argument could be correct, I am inclined to perceive it to be more of a fallacy. He argues that because abortion has been legalized, there is a high tendency of resorting to infanticide as a next move after abortion. He perceives the situation as being kind of addictive in the sense that a small habit will end up creating a bigger problem. His hypothesis is that, once a habit is started, it will continue growing.  It might be true in some circumstances, but he should not use such reasoning to convince people that abortion is bad. The statement is fallacious in the sense that just because abortion has been accepted, it does not mean infanticide will also set in. it is just a mere claim that has no any evidence within it. It is true that the unborn baby cannot make decisions on his/her own, and therefore, it should be allowed to grow to maturity and be born; but also we have to consider the impacts the baby has on the mother carrying it. Why should doctors try as much as possible to maintain the unborn if the life of the mother is threatened? It may happen that as we struggle to maintain the baby’s life we might end up losing both. They say better a half of a loaf than none at all.

The assumption made by Schaeffer in his argument does not give us the basis of what could be the real cause of infanticide after abortion has been legalized. In the argument, there is no a clear cut that illustrates how abortion will end up leading to infanticide. There is a continuum existing between the two basing on the argument presented.  The statement presents only one side of the issue associated with legalized abortion. There is no substantial evidence to support his argument, and as a result, the statement can be easily considered to be fallacious.  Schaeffer should at least provide us with the evidence that supports his reasoning. He should actually provide us with facts. Furthermore, he needs also to have a look at the other side of the coin. He should also tell people the benefits associated with abortion and not only its negative effects. And still in his argument, he is basing more on probability to argue his point. He should present the two sides of abortion issue and allow us to make a decision basing on the ideas raised.

FALLACY OF GENERALIZATION.

MAIN CLAIM: He, who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them.

This statement was made by John Stuart Mill (1869) when talking about liberty. Mill goes ahead to argue that, if one is unable to rebut the reasons on the other side - if, for instance he does not know what the reasons are, - then such a person has no basis for preferring one of the sides in either opinion.

Many a times, people are tempted to rush into conclusions without necessarily considering the available evidence.  Just like a coin, every story has two sides. That is the good side of the story and the bad side.  According to the above statement, one may be knowing only the good side of the story and end up supporting it without knowing the opposite side. Such a person may have valid evidences to support his/her argument basing on only one side, but that does not mean that his/her argument is right. There is need to analyze the opposite side of the argument and then weigh the two. It is after weighing the two sides of the argument that e can conclusively and satisfactorily come up with a conclusion.

It is logical that a case which is one-sided will only present evidence that favors its conclusion and at the same time ignore or downplay the evidence against it. Such kind of situation call for inductive reasoning. It only makes sense to conclude on something after considering not only the good side of it but also the side you consider being bad. For instance, suppose somebody has observed several white jersey cows, then there is a higher possibility of such a person concluding that all jersey cows are white. However, if it happens that during the observation, a black jersey cow was also noted, one would not come to such conclusion.  Rather, one may say either almost all jersey cows are white or most of the jersey cows are white.

Therefore, it is always fallacious to present evidence basing on the one-sided argument. As it is the nature of fallacies, it is always prudent to consider the context of the argument.  For example, in a trial, an attorney general always presents a one-sided case favoring the client. It is not the job of the attorney to present the evidence for the defendant but it is the prosecutor’s job. Similarly, the job of the prosecutor is to present a one-sided case to convict. All the two sides are presented in a trial not by one person but by two different people. This has always been the nature of adversarial systems. Each side always presents a biased case and it is the duty of the jury to come up with a decision after listening to both sides.

Another instance is when doing partisan politics, especially during election campaigns. The campaigner of a given candidate will only talk of the positive things about him and talk negative about the candidate’s opponent. Because of generalization fallacy, it is expected for one to talk of his/her strengths only if told he/she wants to woe voters. A candidate who goes ahead to talk of his/her weaknesses stands a chance of failing compared to one who only talks of the strengths. As voters we should at first listen to both sides and then make a conclusion. Those people who listen to only a one sided opinion more than often end up making unwise decisions.

The world of advertising is also a major source of non-fallacious biasness. Surely, we have no reason to expect salespersons or advertisers to tell us what is wrong with their products. It is logical that someone will only want to buy an item that is efficient and has nothing wrong associated with it. As a result, salespersons will want to entice buyers by telling them how good the product is without telling them its shortcomings.  Advertisers always want us to buy their products. As consumers, we encounter a fallacy when we follow what advertisers are telling us about the products. Seldom do we turn to consumer publications to find out the other side.

RED HERRING FALLACY

MAIN CLAIM: If Osama Bin Laden was watching, he could have also applauded.

The most revealing moment in the speech that was made last night [State of the Union] occurred after it was noted that the main provisions of the patriot act were to expire by next year. In response to those remarks, the New York Times reports that some of the critics in the Congress clapped enthusiastically. It goes ahead to report that if Osama Bin Laden was watching, he could have also applauded. This was a statement made by James Taranto (2004).  

In the statement, it might be true that Osama Bin Laden might sanction when the provisions of Patriot Act expires. However, this does not mean that the American critics are also wrong when they approve the expiration of the provision, since there is a possibility of having different reasons for approving it. Some Americans are actually against the Patriot Act since they view it as an infringement on their rights with little or no use in helping them prevent terrorism. Their opinion may not be true, but that does not make them appear as an Al-Qaida cheering squad.

In the statement, the idea of fallacy comes in the sense that because the Congress have applauded the fact that the Patriot Act is expiring soon, and it also happens that Osama Bin Laden could also applaud; the writer then goes ahead to brand the Congress as being al Qaeda cheering squad. Well it might be true that the Congress is the cheering squad for the al Qaeda but you cannot base only on one idea to conclude that. More substantial evidence is needed. What the statement is trying to use as evidence is guilt by association.

The statement is attempting to divert the attention of people on what is real happening. From the entire statement, we are told that the president reports of the expiration of the Patriot Act. Instead of the reporter concentrating on the expiring act, he/she goes ahead to introduce a new argument, that is, the expiry being applauded by both the congress and Osama. The reporter concludes that because the congress and Osama share common idea concerning the expiration, then they support each other. Foremost, we expected the reporter to discuss perhaps the effect the expiration has on the citizens of America. This was not the case. A new argument of cheering squad was introduced to divert the attention of the readers. This makes the topic of discussion to be abandoned. Such kind of reasoning is fallacious. This scenario clearly indicates Red Herring fallacy.

Therefore, what is being depicted in the above statement is Guilt by Association. Guilt by Association endeavors to disrepute an idea that is based upon people who are disfavored. Guilt by Association is the reverse of Appeal to Misleading Authority; hence, it is justifiable if called “Appeal to Ant-Authority”. An argument to the authority will argue while attempting to favor an idea that is associated with the authority figure. On the other hand, Guilt by Association will attempt to argue against any notion that is associated with disreputable people or an organization.

For instance, McCarthyism was a particular version of Guilt by Association in where a person, an organization, or a notion was associated with communism. McCarthyism and communism association was made by linking the two through some shared notions. For example, in the late 1960s, some of the anti-communists attacked the support of civil rights by stating that the Communist Party supported civil rights movement. It was later argued that anybody who supported civil rights was also supporting communism irrespective of whether it was genuine support or not.

GENERALIZATION FALLACY

MAIN CLAIM: a parent, apparently picked at random, testifies that they haven't improved

As Okrent (2005) wrote in his article published in The New York Times, “It's a story, say, about the New York City public schools. In the first paragraph a parent, apparently picked at random, testifies that they haven't improved. Readers are clearly expected to draw conclusions from this”. Readers of the paper are expected to draw conclusions from the statement. But the statement is not clear: why the respondent was picked; furthermore, it is impossible to determine whether the respondent is a representative of the whole population; and lastly, it is hard to tell if the respondent knows what she is talking about. Calling upon any man on the streets to make a conclusive judgment is beyond journalistic dignity. More so, it is more of generalization. If polls encompassing thousands of people carry a precautionary note indicating a margin of error, what about the case of one respondent?

In the above paragraph, it can be noted that there was a great deal of generalization based upon a sample which is so minute to be a representative of the population. This clearly indicates the generalizing fallacy. If it happens that the population in question is heterogeneous, then a sample which is large enough to represent the variability in the population should be used.

On the other hand, in a completely homogenous population, a sample of one person is suitable enough; hence, it is impossible to assign an absolute lower limit on the sample size. From the discussion, it can be argued that the sample size has a direct dependency on the population’s variability. A large sample is required for a more heterogeneous population. For example, there is always a high tendency of variations in the people’s opinion concerning politics; it, therefore, means that opinion polls will only make sense if the sample population is large enough.

Let us take an example of spaghetti. Assume you are cooking spaghetti, and then you pick a single strand to test whether it is ready for consumption. If it is cooked, an assumption is made that all the remaining spaghetti are also ready for consumption. In this situation, the sample is one strand, while the population is the whole of spaghetti in the pot. One may wonder if a fallacy of hasty generalization has been committed. The answer is no. Most of us are familiar with such type of inference, especially when we are cooking something. For example, when one tastes a pot of soup to ascertain if it is uniformly seasoned by tasting a spoon of it. Rarely does such a person taste several spoons because there is a belief that the sample spoon is a representative of the whole soup.

Such inferences are acceptable because spaghetti is produced in large amounts and each noodle is identical to others, that is, homogenous. In addition, if a whole box of spaghetti is put in boiling water, we can have no doubts that all the spaghetti are being cooked in equal amount of time. Basing on this, we can know that a noodle of spaghetti that we taste is a representative of other noodles in the pot in terms of doneness.

However, sometimes it happens that such inferences go wrong. For instance, supposing one sprinkles spices onto the surface of the soup and forgets to stir the pot. If the same person takes the test spoon from the top of the soup, it will be less likely that the soup will be a representative of the whole soup. There are higher chances of getting more spices on the soup that is on the top as compared to that one in the bottom. In case one fails to notice that and goes ahead to conclude from his/her sample, then a hasty generalization fallacy will have been committed. In fact, as one continues to eat the soup, he/she will notice that the soup at the bottom tastes differently as the one at the top.

Similarly, when dealing with populations that are naturally more varied, we have to be careful on how we take the sample. In addition, we also need to take a sample that is large enough in order to represent the whole population. Likewise, if people’s political views are being polled, it is more obvious that a sample of one person’s views will be misleading regardless of the opinion the person has.

BEGGING THE QUESTION FALLACY

MAIN CLAIM: To cast abortion a solely moral question is more of losing touch with common sense. The way humans treat each other is practically the definition of a moral matter. Naturally, there are different private facets of concern, but the issue of whether one human should be permitted lethally to do harm to his/her colleagues is not among them. Abortion is not an inevitable public concern..

In the above statement, we realize that there is an idea that begs the question. In such a case, those opposing may ask the proposers to concede certain points with the aim of speeding up the proceedings. Such a habit is referred to as “begging the question”.  It is simply asking that the very point of the issue is conceded which is very illegitimate.  The initial and the most obvious way of committing the fallacy (begging the question) is by leaving out a possible false key premise out of the discussion and at the same time creating the illusion that there is nothing needed to make a conclusion.

One may argue that murder is morally wrong. Consequently, one will also say that abortion is morally wrong. It appears from the two statements that they are invalid arguments. A major premise is missing; hence, the conclusion does not follow the assumption given. One might argue that the missing premise is implied, but if one consents to that, then it seems the fallacy is not an issue so much as the intensity of the implied premise. After all, a valid argument is one in which, if the premises are true, then it is impossible for the conclusion also to be untrue. In case only one premise exists and a second premise linking the first assumption to the conclusion is not there, then it would be possible to have true premise and false conclusions. This makes the argument invalid.

From the above discussion, it will be a mistake to perceive the idea of “begging the question” as a valid argument since all circular arguments are valid. As earlier mentioned, “begging the question” is a form of validating argument. This sounds counter-intuitive, particularly if you over-estimate the vitality of validity. We have to appreciate that validity is an important virtue of any argument, but also there is every reason to accept that good argument also need to be sound. In addition, as explained earlier, even soundness alone is not enough: an argument which is good needs to expand and advance our knowledge concerning the debate. This is not the case with begging the question which gets us nowhere. It only makes us to go round in circles.

One may ask under what circumstance can be a circular argument valid? This can happen when we define “valid”.  An argument is only valid if the truth of the assumption is also found in the conclusion. In case it happens that the argument’s conclusion is in one of its premises, then clearly, the truth of its premises calls for the truth of that conclusion.

 According to Hurley (2002), “all abortions are murders”.  Therefore, such complete argument can arise: murder is morally unacceptable; hence all abortions can be considered to be murders. He concludes that abortion is unmoral. It can be then hypothesized that the above statement is a valid argument. In addition, it lacks the element of circularity since its conclusion is not one of the assumptions. One may then wonder why it begs the question. It begs the question in the sense that murder is not a moral-neutral word unlike it is the case with killing. Thus, the argument do beg the question because the word “murder” is not a word that is morally neutral such as “killing”. For instance, one may say that all murders committed are killings but not all the killings committed are murder. For example, one may kill in the name of self defense, a soldier may kill in the battle or a police officer may kill while on duty. All these do not qualify to be murder. So, the initial, unsuppressed premises are really unnecessary, since the argument is still considered to be valid without it. For example, all abortions are considered murder cases; therefore, abortion is morally wrong. One may then argue that abortions are killing wrongfully; hence it is, unmoral. The argument is clearly circular, hence valid. In the first argument, the unmoral nature of abortion has been included into the assumption via the word “murder,” which is morally loaded. This depicts how questions in real life situations are always begged by the use of loaded language to hide the fact that the argument is circular.

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