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Fallacies Analysis This paper analyzes a number of fallacies and illustrates how they can be applied to the organizational setting to aid the management in the vital decision-making process. The first matter to be researched is the fallacy of attacking the person instead of arguing with an idea presented by this individual. Let’s consider the following situation. A company manager is involved in a grievance complaint, which deals with an employee (Josh) supporting Fascist views and openly propagating his opinion at the job place. One of his co-workers (Mark) is very unhappy about this state of affairs because his grandpa fought in the WWII and was killed in action. Mark is deeply offended by Josh’ comments that Fascism is the only suitable rule for the modern system of corruption and complete lack of order. Josh decides to write an official complaint and now the company manager has to deal with it. When the manager approaches Josh, he becomes very agitated by Josh’ ideas and views. What is more, it turns out that Josh is a skilled speaker who is able to almost flawlessly build his argument and support his position. Not finding any valid (in his opinion) arguments, the manager starts assaulting Josh, he calls him a cruel person and attacks his personal characteristics to win the argument.
Josh, though becoming offended because the manager threatens to take disciplinary actions against him if he doesn’t seize his propaganda, still wins the argument because the case is not about his personal characteristics but about his ideas, which he is perfectly able to defend. The lesson learnt from this short illustration is that the manager should have attacked Josh’s ideas instead of his personality. If he persuaded Josh that his ideas were wrong, he would be able to encourage this employee not to speak about this issue at work as it offends other. However, because the manager attacked Josh’s personality and behavior, he failed. The second case deals with a so-called “slippery slope” fallacy. This type of fallacy concerns the line of reasoning in which there is no gray area or middle ground. It states that A, B, and C are understood and vivid in their nature and that they don’t’ require further explanations. This theory (or rather fallacy) doesn’t distinguish between the degrees of difference. According to the analysis of the slippery slope argument given in Walton (1992), this argument turns out to be an extension of argumentation from consequences. In a slippery slope argument, a chain of consequences is driven onward from a given "first step" of action toward some dangerous or "horrible" ultimate outcome.
If we take an organization as our example, we realize that because the outcome is bad for the manager advocating or considering this first step, by a modus tollens sequence of backward inferences, the conclusion is inferred that the proponent should not take this first step. Consequences are not always causal consequences in a slippery slope argument. In the organizations that we chose to illustrate this case, there are four basic kinds of slippery slope arguments: (1)linguistic, (2) causal, (3) precedent, and (4) all-in slippery slope arguments (Walton, 1992). Even so, many or all slippery slope arguments can be seen as based on the argumentum ad consequentiam, depending on how the term consequence is defined. The following example is an all-in type of slippery slope argument that combines elements from all of (1), (2) and (3). But causal considerations are very important in it, and it can be seen as based, to a significant degree, on argumentation from consequences. The dialogue was a parliamentary debate on whether the use of marijuana should be legalized. Tolerance to cannabis leads the chronic smoker to increased usage and on to more potent drugs. Decriminalization of marijuana would unleash a drug problem more severe than we have ever known.
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But is the slippery slope argument a fallacy? Walton (1992) argued that it can be a reasonable kind of practical argumentation in some cases, or a weak, faulty, or even fallacious argument as used in other cases. In the above case, the argument leaves out many intervening steps and scientific evidence that would be needed to make it strong enough to meet persuasive requirements of burden of proof. It does not follow, however, that because a slippery slope argument is weak, it must be fallacious. The third fallacy deals with the theory “two wrongs make a right”. Actually, the above argument commits two fallacies common to radical inference patterns, which we shall call the fallacy of outrageous classification and the fallacy of two wrongs make a right. The fallacy of outrageous classification is the fallacy of assimilating one kind of phenomenon to a category so breathtakingly inappropriate that the normal canons of criticism of classification are automatically suspended. A generation ago, in an earlier incarnation, this was known as the technique of the big lie. Thus, e.g., the university will not abandon all admission requirements? Then it is obviously racist. The president will not deny free speech to the military recruiters and supporters of the war?
Then he is obviously an imperialist, militarist, and enemy of the right to dissent. Black babies are dying of hunger and disease? That is obviously violence. The fallacy of two wrongs make a right is simply that since X is worse than Y it follows that Y is acceptable. Notice that this argument is sometimes bolstered by the argument that we are doing Y in order to stop X, e.g., we are meeting violence with violence. That argument would have some validity if doing Y were actually a way of stopping X, if, say, throwing a brick through a university window were a way of stopping the war in Vietnam, but since in practice the available evidence almost always indicates that Y has no effect whatsoever on X, the argument is either left in its original fallacious form or supported by an even weaker argument. The form, then, of Bond's argument is as follows: we are accused of violence. Our reply is (1) the injustices we are fighting against are themselves violence (fallacy of outrageous classification), (2) since they are violence, our violence in response to them is justified (fallacy of two wrongs make a right) (Bart, 1974).
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