Fallacies of Context

Fallacies in this category include arguments that "jump to conclusions." There is a logical gap in these arguments because they fail to consider a wide enough context of information; hence, the name, fallacies of context. The problem is not the premises per se; the premises are relevant to the conclusion; they do provide genuine evidence. But the evidence is simply inadequate or incomplete.

We examine five such fallacies:

  • False alternative

    Excluding relevant possibilities without justification.

  • Post hoc

    Using the fact that one event preceded another as sufficient evidence for the conclusion that the first caused the second.

  • Hasty generalization

    Inferring a general proposition from an inadequate sample of particular cases.

  • Composition

    Inferring that a whole has a property merely because its parts have that property.

  • Division

    Inferring that a part has a property merely because the whole has that property.


Comprehension Questions

1 Identify the fallacy committed by the following argument.

Megan didn't say that she loved the meal that I cooked for her. Therefore, she must have hated it.

a) begging the question
b) post hoc
c) false alternative
d) appeal to ignorance
e) diversion
f) straw man
2 Identify the fallacy committed by the following argument.

Mr. Stauch sold all three of his houses quickly because he placed the "For Sale" sign out at the exact time his astrologer told him to.

a) begging the question
b) post hoc
c) false alternative
d) appeal to ignorance
e) diversion
f) straw man


Fallacies of Logical Structure

© Copyright 1998, W.W. Norton & Co.