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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 20, Issue 1, Fall 2000

Herman E. Stark
Pages 23-32

Fallacies and Logical Errors

I explore a distinction that is philosophically significant but rarely a cynosure. The distinction is betvveen fallacies and logical errors, and I approach it by advancing overlooked albeit deleterious logical errors that are not fallacies but that fall squarely within the purview of Critical Thinking if not also Informal Logic. One key claim to emerge is that these logical errors -- just as basic and thought-impeding as the fallacies -- demand that we take a hard look at what is and what should be guiding our activity in teaching such courses. Another is that although philosophers appeal to the notion of logical error in their explications of fallacies, the former notion is anything but clear and indeed usually explained in terms of the latter. Yet another is that the distinction illustrates why the oft encountered “false premise or bad inference” account of how thinking can go bad is oversimplified.

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