Fallacy of Composition | Definition & Examples

A fallacy of composition involves assuming that parts or members of a whole will have the same properties as the whole. This leads to wrong conclusions because what is true of the different parts is not necessarily true of the whole.

Fallacy of composition example
This house is made of bricks. A brick is light in weight. Therefore, this house is also light in weight.

A fallacy of composition is an oversimplification that invalidates an argument.

Fallacy of Composition

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Post Hoc Fallacy | Definition & Examples

The post hoc fallacy is the assumption that because one event preceded another event, they must be causally related. In other words, the first event must have caused the second.

However, the chronological order of two events does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between them.

Post hoc fallacy example
My computer crashed after I installed a new piece of editing software. I’m sure the software caused the crash.

Making erroneous assumptions about the cause of events can lead us to wrong decisions in many important areas of everyday life, including economics, policy, and health. The post hoc fallacy is also known as the false cause fallacy, fallacy of false cause, questionable cause, and faulty causation.

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Non Sequitur Fallacy | Definition & Examples

A non sequitur fallacy is a statement or conclusion that does not follow logically from what preceded it. Non sequiturs can be responses that have nothing to do with the conversation or flawed conclusions “based” on what preceded them.

Non sequitur fallacy example
Premise 1: All birds have wings.

Premise 2: That creature has wings.

Conclusion: Therefore, that creature is a bird.

Non sequiturs may appear in various contexts, including everyday conversations, political speeches, and literary texts. Non sequitur fallacy is also known as irrelevant reason, derailment, and invalid inference.

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Circular Reasoning Fallacy | Definition & Examples

The circular reasoning fallacy is an argument that assumes the very thing it is trying to prove is true. Instead of offering evidence, it simply repeats the conclusion, rendering the argument logically incoherent.

Circular reasoning fallacy example
Parent: “It’s time to go to bed.”

Child: “Why?”

Parent: “Because this is your bedtime.”

People may commit circular reasoning fallacy unintentionally because they are convinced of their own assumptions and take them as given. Sometimes, circular reasoning is used deliberately to mask the speaker’s lack of understanding or evidence.

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Hasty Generalization Fallacy | Definition & Examples

A hasty generalization fallacy is a claim made on the basis of insufficient evidence. Instead of looking into examples and evidence that are much more in line with the typical or average situation, you draw a conclusion about a large population using a small, unrepresentative sample.

Due to this, we often form a judgment about a group of people or items based on too small of a sample, which can lead to wrong conclusions and misinformation.

Hasty generalization fallacy example
You have a transit flight via Frankfurt Airport, Germany. On the way to your gate, several passengers hastily bump into you without even apologizing. You conclude that “Germans are so rude!”

Hasty generalization fallacy is also called overgeneralization fallacy, faulty generalization, and argument from small numbers.

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Ad Hominem Fallacy | Definition & Examples

Ad hominem fallacy (or ad hominem) is an attempt to discredit someone’s argument by personally attacking them. Instead of discussing the argument itself, criticism is directed toward the opponent’s character, which is irrelevant to the discussion.

Ad hominem fallacy example
Person 1: I think it is important to enforce minimum-wage legislation so that workers are not exploited.

Person 2: Nonsense. You only say that because you just can’t get a good job!

Ad hominem fallacy is often used as a diversion tactic to shift attention to an unrelated point like a person’s character or motives and avoid addressing the actual issue. It is common in both formal and informal contexts, ranging from political debates to online discussions.

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Logical Fallacies | Definition, Types, List & Examples

A logical fallacy is an argument that may sound convincing or true but is actually flawed. Logical fallacies are leaps of logic that lead us to an unsupported conclusion. People may commit a logical fallacy unintentionally, due to poor reasoning, or intentionally, in order to manipulate others.

Logical fallacy example
A student group suggests that “useless courses like English 101 should be dropped from the curriculum.” Without explaining why English 101 is useless in their view, the members of the group then immediately move on, arguing that spending money on a useless course is something that nobody wants.

Because logical fallacies can be deceptive, it is important to be able to spot them in your own argumentation and that of others.

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Slippery Slope Fallacy | Definition & Examples

The slippery slope fallacy is an argument that claims an initial event or action will trigger a series of other events and lead to an extreme or undesirable outcome. The slippery slope fallacy anticipates this chain of events without offering any evidence to substantiate the claim.

Slippery slope fallacy example
Person A: “I think we should lower the legal drinking age.”

Person B: “No, if we do that, we’ll have ten-year-olds getting drunk in bars!”

As a result, the slippery slope fallacy can be misleading both in our own internal reasoning process and in public debates.

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What Is Straw Man Fallacy? | Definition & Examples

Straw man fallacy is the distortion of someone else’s argument to make it easier to attack or refute. Instead of addressing the actual argument of the opponent, one may present a somewhat similar but not equal argument.

By placing it in the opponent’s mouth and then attacking that version of the argument, one is essentially refuting an argument that is different from the one under discussion.

Straw man fallacy example
Person 1: I think we should increase benefits for unemployed single mothers during the first year after childbirth because they need sufficient money to provide medical care for their children.

Person 2: So you believe we should give incentives to women to become single mothers and get a free ride from the tax money of hard-working citizens. This is just going to hurt our economy and our society in the long run.

The straw man fallacy can be used to distract from relevant arguments in different contexts, such as in political debates, in the media, as well as in everyday discussions. It is also known as the straw man argument.

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What Is the Sunk Cost Fallacy? | Definition & Examples

The sunk cost fallacy is the tendency for people to continue an endeavor or course of action even when abandoning it would be more beneficial. Because we have invested our time, energy, or other resources, we feel that it would all have been for nothing if we quit.

Sunk cost fallacy example
You are watching a movie, and after 30 minutes you realize it’s not what you expected. Instead of finding another movie, you convince yourself to continue. You think to yourself that you have already invested half an hour and the whole movie is just an hour and a half. If you quit now, you will have wasted your time, so you decide to stick it out.

As a result, we make irrational or suboptimal decisions. The sunk cost fallacy can be observed in various contexts, such as business, relationships, and day-to-day decisions.

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