11.3 Persuasive Reasoning and also Fallacies

Learning Objectives

Define inductive, deductive, and causal reasoning.Evaluate the high quality of inductive, deductive, and also causal reasoning.Identify usual fallacies of reasoning.

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Persuasive speakers should be involved with what strengthens and also weakens one argument. Earlier we questioned the procedure of building an argument with claims and evidence and how warrants are the underlying justifications that affix the two. We also discussed the importance of analyzing the stamin of a warrant, because solid warrants are usually much more persuasive. Understanding different varieties of thinking can assist you put claims and evidence with each other in persuasive methods and help you advice the high quality of debates that girlfriend encounter. Further, being able to identify typical fallacies of reasoning can aid you be a more critical consumer that persuasive messages.


Reasoning refers to the procedure of making feeling of things roughly us. In bespeak to recognize our experiences, draw conclusions native information, and also present new ideas, we have to use reasoning. We often reason there is no being mindful of it, but becoming more aware of how we think can empower us to be far better producers and consumers that communicative messages. The three types of reasoning we will explore are inductive, deductive, and causal.

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning reaches conclusions through the quote of examples and also is the most generally used type of logical reasoning (Walter, 1966). When introductory speaker are at first attracted to inductive reasoning because it seems easy, it deserve to be complicated to rental well. Inductive reasoning, uneven deductive reasoning, doesn’t an outcome in true or false conclusions. Instead, because conclusions are generalized based upon observations or examples, conclusions room “more likely” or “less likely.” in spite of the truth that this form of reasoning isn’t definitive, it can still be valid and also persuasive.

Some debates based ~ above inductive thinking will be much more cogent, or convincing and also relevant, 보다 others. For example, inductive reasoning have the right to be weak when insurance claims are made too generally. An discussion that fraternities need to be abolished from campus due to the fact that they add to underage drinking and do no uphold high scholastic standards can be countered by providing instances of fraternities that sponsor alcohol education and learning programming because that the campus and also have members that have excelled academically (Walter, 1966). In this case, one overly general insurance claim is countered by another general claim, and both the them have some merit. It would be an ext effective to current a series of facts and reasons and also then share the conclusion or generalization that you have actually reached native them.

You can see inductive reasoning offered in the adhering to speech excerpt from chairman George W. Bush’s attend to to the country on the night of September 11, 2001. Notice how the lists a collection of occasions from the day, which build to his conclusion the the terrorist assaults failed in their attempt to shake the structure of America. Today, our fellow citizens, our method of life, our really freedom came under assault in a series of deliberate and also deadly terrorist acts. The victims to be in airplanes or in your offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and also federal workers, moms and also dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of stays were suddenly finished by evil, despicable plot of terror. The photos of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge—huge structures collapsing have actually filled us through disbelief, destructive sadness, and also a quiet, unyielding anger. This acts of massive murder were intended to frighten our country into chaos and also retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.

A an excellent people has been moved to defend a an excellent nation. Terrorist attacks can shiver the foundations of our best buildings, yet they cannot touch the foundation of America.

Using inductive reasoning, speakers reach conclusions v the citation of examples.

Claire Sambrook – UM… – CC BY-NC 2.0.

If a speaker is may be to provide examples that are concrete, proxemic, and relevant to the audience, as bush did in this example, audience members are prompted to think of additional examples that connect to their own lives. Inductive reasoning deserve to be helpful when an audience disagrees with your proposition. Together you present logically associated examples as evidence that develop to a conclusion, the audience may be encouraged by her evidence before they realize the the coming conclusion will counter what they previously thought. This likewise sets up cognitive dissonance, i m sorry is a persuasive strategy us will talk about later.

Reasoning by analogy is a form of inductive reasoning that suggests that what is true in one set of circumstances will it is in true in one more (Walter, 1966). Thinking by analogy has been criticized and questioned by logicians, since two sets of situations are never exactly the same. While this is true, ours goal as soon as using thinking by analogy in persuasive speak is no to create absolutely particular conclusions but to cite cases and supporting proof that can influence an audience. For example, let’s speak you space trying to guide a college to adopt an alcohol education program by citing the program’s success at other institutions. Due to the fact that two universities room never exactly the same, the discussion can’t it is in airtight. To far better support this argument, girlfriend could very first show the the regimen was actually successful using various species of supporting material such together statistics from campus offices and also testimony indigenous students and staff. Second, you might show exactly how the cases relate by highlighting similarities in the campus setting, culture, demographics, and also previous mission. Because you can’t argue the the schools are similar in all ways, pick to highlight significant similarities. Also, it’s much better to acknowledge far-reaching limitations the the analogy and provide added supporting material to resolve them than it is to overlook or hide such limitations. So exactly how do we evaluate inductive reasoning? once inductive thinking is used to test scientific arguments, there is rigorous testing and high criter that need to be met because that a conclusion to be taken into consideration valid. Inductive reasoning in persuasive speaking is work differently. A speaker cannot mention every instance that exist to construct to a conclusion, for this reason to advice inductive thinking you must examine the instances that room cited in ways other 보다 quantity. First, the examples should be sufficient, an interpretation that sufficient are quote to assistance the conclusion. If not, you threat committing the hasty generalization fallacy. A speaker can expect that the audience will have the ability to think that some instances as well, so there is no set number top top how many examples is sufficient. If the audience is acquainted with the topic, climate fewer examples are probably sufficient, while an ext may be necessary for unfamiliar topics. A speaker deserve to make his or her use of reasoning by example much more powerful by reflecting that the instances correspond to the median case, which may require added supporting evidence in the kind of statistics. Suggesting that teacher salaries need to be increased by providing an example of a teacher who works next jobs and also pays because that his or her very own school supplies might be properly supported by showing that this teacher’s salary synchronizes to the national typical (Walter, 1966).

Second, the examples should it is in typical, meaning they weren’t cherry-picked to match the point being argued. A speak who says to defund the national Endowment for the arts (NEA) since the organization supports arts that is “pornographic and also offensive” may cite five instances of grants given for projects that brought about such controversy. Failing to cite that these examples were traction from the more than 128,000 sponsor issued by the NEA would certainly be an inappropriate use of inductive reasoning due to the fact that the examples aren’t enough or common enough come warrant the argument. Another way to support inductive arguments is to display that the examples are a same sample, an interpretation they space representative of the larger whole. Saying that college athletes shouldn’t obtain scholarships because they perform not have actually the scholastic merit of various other students and have less academic achievement could be sustained by sharing number of examples. However if those instances were no representative, climate they space biased, and the thinking faulty. A speak would need to present that the athletes supplied in the example are representative, in terms of their race, gender, sport, and also background, the the population of athletes in ~ the university.

Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning derives specifics from what is currently known. It to be the preferred form of reasoning provided by ancient rhetoricians like Aristotle to make logical debates (Cooper & Nothstine, 1996). A syllogism is an example of deductive reasoning that is generally used once teaching logic. A syllogism is an example of deductive reasoning in i beg your pardon a conclusion is sustained by major and boy premises. The conclusion the a valid debate can it is in deduced indigenous the major and young premises. A generally used example of a syllogism is “All humans are mortal. Socrates is a human. Socrates is mortal.” In this case, the conclusion, “Socrates is mortal,” is derived from the major premise, “All people are mortal,” and the minor premise, “Socrates is a human.” In part cases, the major and minor basic of a syllogism might be taken because that granted as true. In the vault example, the major premise is presumed true since we have no knowledge of an immortal human to disprove the statement. The minor premise is presumed true since Socrates looks and acts choose other people we understand to be human. Detectives or scientists using such logic would desire to test their conclusion. We could test ours conclusion through stabbing Socrates to see if the dies, but due to the fact that the logic of the syllogism is sound, it might be better to reduced Socrates a break and deem the dispute valid. Since most arguments are much more sophisticated than the previous example, speakers must support their premises v research and also evidence to develop their validity prior to deducing your conclusion.

A syllogism have the right to lead to incorrect conclusions if among the basic isn’t true, as in the adhering to example:

All presidents have actually lived in the White House. (Major premise)George Washington to be president. (Minor premise)George Washington resided in the White House. (Conclusion)

In the previous example, the significant premise was untrue, because John Adams, our 2nd president, was the an initial president to live in the White House. This causes the conclusion to it is in false. A syllogism can also exhibit faulty logic even if the premises are both true but are unrelated, as in the complying with example:

Penguins space black and white. (Major premise)Some old television mirrors are black and white. (Minor premise)Some penguins are old television shows. (Conclusion)

Like in the video game of Clue, real-life detectives usage deductive thinking to attract a conclusion around who cursed a crime based upon the recognized evidence.

Sleepmyf – Lego detective – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.Causal Reasoning

Causal reasoning suggests to develop a relationship between a cause and also an effect. When speakers effort to argue because that a specific course of action based on potential confident or an unfavorable consequences that may result, they room using causal reasoning. Such reasoning is evident in the complying with example: Eating more local foods items will rise the local economy and also make friend healthier. The “if/then” partnership that is collection up in causal reasoning have the right to be persuasive, yet the thinking isn’t always sound. Rather than developing a true cause-effect relationship, speakers an ext often set up a correlation, which method there is a relationship between two things yet there are various other contextual influences.

To usage causal reasoning effectively and ethically, speakers must avoid declare a direct relationship in between a cause and an effect when such a link cannot be proven. Instead of suggesting that “x caused y,” it is more accurate because that a speak to say “x affected y.” Causal thinking is frequently used when looking to blame miscellaneous or someone, as have the right to be watched in the complying with example: It’s the president’s fault the the economic climate hasn’t recovered more. While such a statement might garner a speaker some political capital, it is not based on solid reasoning. Economic and also political procedures are too facility to distill to such a simple cause-effect relationship. A speak would must use more solid reasoning, possibly inductive reasoning through examples, to develop up enough evidence to support that a correlation exists and a causal relationship is likely. Once using causal reasoning, current evidence that mirrors the following: (1) the cause occurred before the effect, (2) the cause led come the effect, and (3) the is unlikely the other reasons produced the effect.

Review of varieties of Reasoning

Inductive. Arguing from instances to support a conclusion; consists of reasoning by analogy. Examples should it is in sufficient, typical, and representative come warrant a strong argument.Deductive. Deriving specifics indigenous what is currently known; consists of syllogisms. Premises that cause a conclusion need to be true, relevant, and also related because that the dispute to be valid.Causal. Argues to establish a relationship in between a cause and an effect. Usually entails a correlation quite than a true causal relationship.Fallacies the Reasoning

Fallacies space flaws in ~ the reasonable or thinking of an argument. Although us will discuss 10 common fallacies, more than 125 have been identified and also named. It’s necessary to note that the presence of a fallacy in an argument doesn’t median that the can’t be persuasive. In fact, many human being are convinced by fallacious disagreements because they carry out not identify the fallacy in ~ the argument. Fallacies are often the last initiative of uninformed or ill-prepared speaker who uncover that they have actually nothing better to say. Being mindful of the creates of reasoning and also fallacies provides us more an essential consumers that persuasive messages, i beg your pardon is a substantial benefit of studying persuasive speaking that affects personal, political, and professional aspects of our lives.

Hasty Generalization

The hasty generalization fallacy relates to inductive reasoning and also is the an outcome of too few examples gift cited to warrant the generalization. Jumping come conclusions is tempting, especially when pressed because that time, yet making well-researched and also supported disagreements is key to being an effective and also ethical speaker. Make a insurance claim that train take trip is not safe and citing two recent derailments that led to injury doesn’t produce a strong warrant once viewed in relationship to the variety of train passenger who take trip safely every day.

False Analogy

The false analogy fallacy also relates to inductive reasoning and also results as soon as the cases or scenarios being contrasted are not similar enough. A usual false analogy that people make is comparing miscellaneous to putting a human being on the moon: “If we can put a human on the moon, why can’t we number out a means to do the tax code easier to understand?” This inquiry doesn’t identify the various skill sets and also motivations connected in the two examples being compared.

False Cause

The false cause fallacy relates come causal reasoning and also occurs as soon as a speaker argues, with poor evidence, the one thing resulted in or causes another. When I was in high school, teachers offered to say that wearing baseball caps would make us go bald as soon as we gained older. In an effort to guide us to not wear hats in the classroom, they to be arguing, fallaciously, that wearing baseball caps is what reasons baldness. Once a false cause argument is make after the “effect,” that is described in Latin as post hoc ergo propter hoc, which way “after this, thus because the this.” Blaming negative fortune on superstitions is a an excellent example the faulty reasoning that tries come argue for a connection in between an “effect” that has currently occurred and also its preceding “cause.” My bad luck is more likely attributable to poor decisions I have made or random interference 보다 the winter I broke while relocating two year ago.

Superstitious beliefs often exemplify the false cause fallacy. Is the broken mirror yes, really the cause of your bad luck?

Tim Sheerman-Chase – Seven Years poor Luck – CC by 2.0.False Authority

The false authority fallacy results as soon as the human making an discussion doesn’t actually have the qualifications to it is in credible however is perceived as credible because they space respected or admired. Regardless of the fact that this form of discussion is fallacious, the is obviously rather effective. Advertisers spend countless dollars to acquire celebrities and also athletes to sell us your products since of the persuasive potential this stars bring in their persona, no in their capability to controversy a point. Voters can be persuaded to assistance a candidate due to the fact that of a famed musician’s endorsement there is no questioning the political ideas of one of two people the musician or the politician to view if they complement up v their own.


Parents and other resources of indict in our lives have tried to save us from falling because that the bandwagon fallacy. Once your mommy responds come your argument that friend should obtain to walk to the party because everyone else is by asking, “If anyone else jumped turn off a bridge, would you?” she is rightfully pointing out the fallacy in your argument. In a public-speaking-related example, ns have had students try to persuade their audience to buy and eat more organic foods based on their enhancing popularity. In short, famous appeal and frequency that use room not solid warrants to support an argument. Just since something is popular, doesn’t mean it’s good

False Dilemma

The false dilemma fallacy occurs once a speak rhetorically backs his or her audience into a corner, presenting them with just two choices and suggesting that they must select either one or the other. This is likewise known as the “either/or” fallacy. Critical thinkers recognize that the civilization can’t be simplified to black and white, good and bad, or right and also wrong. Yet many world rely on together oversimplifications as soon as making arguments. A speaker who argues that immigrant to the United states should find out English or go ago to your own country doesn’t recognize that there are plenty of successful immigrants who have successful lives and also contribute to culture without speaking English fluently. The speaker likewise ignores the truth that countless immigrants execute not have accessibility to English language indict or the time to take together classes since they are busy with their very own jobs and also families. Granted, such a rhetorical strategy does make it less complicated to discuss complex issues and try to force human being into a decision, yet it likewise removes gray area in the kind of context that deserve to be really vital for do a decision. Be vital of speakers and messages that insurance claim there are just two alternatives from which to choose.

Ad Hominem

Ad hominem way “to the person” in Latin and also refers come a common fallacy of attack a human being rather than an argument. Elementary institution playgrounds and also middle institution hallways are frequently sites of ad hominem attacks. Once one human runs out of an excellent reasons to assistance their argument and also retorts to the other, “Well you’re ugly!” they have resorted come a fallacious ad hominem argument. You probably aren’t surprised to understand that politicians generally rely on personal attacks, specifically when they room sponsored through political action committees (PACs). The proliferation the these establishments resulted in boost in “attack ads” during the 2012 presidential race. While every fallacious arguments detract from the high quality of windy communication, advertisement hominem disagreements in specific diminish the civility of our society.

Slippery Slope

The slippery slope fallacy occurs once a person argues that one activity will inevitably cause a series of various other actions. If us take one step down an icy hill the becomes daunting to get earlier up and you slide every the means down also though you just wanted to take it one step. A slippery slope fallacy in a speech about US international policy can take the type of the adhering to argument: If the United states goes to help this nation in need, then we will be meant to intervene any type of time there’s a problem in the world.

Red Herring

The red herring fallacy is my favorite due to the fact that it has an interesting origin—and that was provided in Scooby Doo! The beginning of the name of this fallacy originates from old foxhunting methods in England. Once the hunters to be training your dogs to continue to be on the trail of a fox, castle would note a trail through fox odor so the dog can practice adhering to the scent. As a additional test, they would certainly take the odor of fish (like a red herring) and also create a second trail leading in one more direction. If a dog left the odor of the fox trace to monitor the more powerful and more noticeable scent trail left by the red herring, climate the dog failure the test. The smartest and best-trained dog weren’t distracted by the fishy trail and stayed ~ above the path. Basically every illustration of Scooby Doo involves a red herring trick—for example, when the ghost in ~ the amusement park transforms out to be a distraction developed by the owner to cover increase his financial problems and also shady service practices. A speaker who provides the red herring fallacy renders an argument that distracts native the discussion at hand. Bringing increase socialism during an argument around nationalized health treatment is an instance of a red herring fallacy.

Appeal to Tradition

The very nice one to tradition fallacy says that something must continue because “it’s the way things have actually been excellent before.” Someone may use this type of discussion when lock feel intimidated by a potential change. Civilization who oppose marital relationship rights because that gay and lesbian people often argue the the an interpretation of marital relationship shouldn’t adjust because of its traditional meaning of a “union in between one man and also one woman.” such appeals regularly overstate the background and pervasiveness of the “tradition.” in ~ the joined States, plenty of departures from traditional views of marriage have actually led to alters that we accept as regular today. In ~ the past one century we have actually seen law changes that took away men’s rights to beat your wives and make decisions because that them. And it wasn’t until 1993 the every state make marital rape a crime, which readjusted the millennia-old “tradition” that females were mandatory to have sex with their husbands (Coontz, 2006). Many people are resistant come or anxious around change, i beg your pardon is understandable, but this doesn’t form the basis of a good argument.

Review that Fallacies

Hasty generalization. Inductive reasoning fallacy that occurs when too couple of examples space cited to warrant a conclusion.False analogy. Inductive reasoning fallacy the occurs when instances or scenarios being compared are not comparable enough.False cause. Causal reasoning fallacy the occurs when a speaker suggests with insufficient evidence that one point caused/causes another.False authority. Fallacy that occurs when a human being making an debate doesn’t have the knowledge or qualifications to be credible however is regarded as credible since they are respected or admired.Bandwagon. Fallacy that counts on suggesting for a food of action or belief since it is commonly done or held.False dilemma. Fallacy the occurs as soon as a speak presents one audience only two choices and suggests they must choose one or the other.Ad hominem. Fallacy the occurs when a speak attacks another person fairly than his or her argument.Slippery slope. Fallacy the occurs when a person argues that one action will inevitably cause a collection of other actions.Red herring. Fallacy that occurs when a speak poses an debate that is supposed to distract from the debate at hand.Appeal to tradition. Fallacy the results as soon as a speaker argues that something must continue since “it’s the method things have been excellent before.”

Key Takeaways

We use reasoning to make sense of the world approximately us and also draw conclusions. Three varieties of reasoning are inductive, deductive, and causal.Inductive thinking refers to disagreements that persuade by citing instances that build to a conclusion. Examples should be sufficient, typical, and representative to warrant a strong argument. Thinking by analogy suggests that what is true in one collection of scenarios will be true in another, and also is an example of inductive reasoning.Deductive thinking refers to arguments that derive specifics indigenous what is already known and includes syllogisms. Premises that cause the conclusion must be true and also relevant because that the argument to it is in valid.Causal thinking refers to disagreements that develop a relationship between a cause and an effect and usually entails a correlation rather than a true causal relationship.Fallacies describe flaws in ~ the logic or thinking of an argument. Ten fallacies of reasoning debated in this chapter room hasty generalization, false analogy, false cause, false authority, false dilemma, advertisement hominem, slippery slope, red herring, and appeal to tradition.


Coontz, S., “Traditional marriage Has adjusted a Lot,” Seattle short article Intelligencer, February 23, 2006, accessed march 6, 2012, http://www.seattlepi.com/default/article/Traditional-marriage-has-changed-a-lot-1196563.php.

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Cooper, M. D., and also William L. Nothstine, Power Persuasion: Moving an ancient Art into the Media Age (Greenwood, IN: Educational video clip Group, 1996), 27.