When Good Arguments Go Bad: An Activity for Learning about Fallacies in Reasoning

Robert H. Gass, John S. Seiter

Abstract


The ability to think, reason, and argue well depends, among other things, on students’ ability to identify and avoid informal fallacies. This exercise enhances students’ understanding of fallacies through an experiential activity in which they construct fallacies on their own and identify fallacies created by other students. In the process, they consider the ethical and practical considerations of encountering fallacies in "real life." The exercise can be used in a variety of college courses, including public speaking, logic, debate, argumentation, critical thinking, writing, rhetoric, and others.

Keywords


Public Speaking, Logic, Debate, Argumentation, Critical Thinking, Writing, Rhetoric

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References


Hamblin, C.L. (1970). Fallacies. London: Methuen.

Eemeren, F. H., & Grootendorst, R. (1992). Argumentation, communication, and fallacies: A pragma-dialectical perspective. Hillsdale, NJ.: Erlbaum.

Mountainguy. (2010, November 1). Creative ideas for teaching logical fallacies [online forum post]. Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=73271.0

Seiter, J. S., Gass, R. H., & Seiter, C. R. (2018). Persuasion GO: An activity for increasing students’ awareness of approaches to social influence. Communication Teacher. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/17404622.2017.1372606

Seiter, J. S., Peeples, J., & Sander, M. L. (2018). Great ideas for teaching students: An orientation. In J. S. Seiter, J. Peeples, & M. L. Sanders (Eds.), Communication in the classroom: A collection of G.I.F.T.S. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Walton, D.N. (1995). A pragmatic theory of fallacy. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.


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