why do we attempt to avoid fallacies
Fallacies are forms of reasoning that fail to provide support for the conclusions reached via that reasoning. In other words, the premises could all be true, but the conclusion still false. Just because something is a fallacy does not make the conclusion of such reasoning false, however. For example, here is a (deductive, logical) fallacy with a true conclusion:
If my name is Nicholas D. Smith, then I have a very common last name. I do have a very common last name. Hence, my name is Nicholas D. Smith. All the premises are true, and so is the conclusion, but the reasoning is fallacious (called "affirming the consequent"), because the truth of the premises does not in any way support or ensure the truth of the conclusion.
To see this, consider another example of the same sort of inference (affirming the consequent): If I am swimming, then I am wet. I am wet. Hence, I am swimming. Nah! I live in Portland, Oregon--folks here are wet most of the year from the rain. So even if the first two premises of the little argument above are true, notice that it doesn't "follow" that the conclusion is true. Hence, the truth-value of the conclusion is in no way supported or assured by the premises. That's what it means for something to be a fallacy. To answer your question now, we attempt to avoid fallacies because we care about what is true and we want to believe what is true and not what is false (at least when we are being reasonable).
So we want to avoid reasoning that does not help us (and may actually hinder us) from our pursuit of truth. As you write, be careful to avoid logic fallacies and ideological reasoning that would undermine the focus of your topic. Logic fallacies are errors in reasoning or connecting ideas. As a writer, you should avoid these logical errors in your own writing, and watch for them in the opinions and arguments of others especially when you are doing research. Common fallacies include: Ad hominem: Also known as nameвcalling, this fallacy is a direct or indirect attack on a person.
Bob can't be right because he is an idiot. Bandwagon/celebrity appeal: This fallacy implies that the reader should agree with a premise because a majority or a wellвknown person agrees with the premise. Everyone recognizes this bill will help our children. Either/or reasoning: This fallacy assumes that there can be only one cause or one solution in an issue. The only way to keep our children safe is to ban video games. Slippery slope: This fallacy assumes that because one minor fact is true, then a larger premise must be too, without any further proof. Congressman Smith voted against tax increases last week; therefore, Congressman Smith will always be against tax increases.
Ad populum: This fallacy bases its argument on emotional appeals rather than facts from reliable sources. All true Americans want to ban this book. Circular reasoning: This fallacy presents a restatement of the problem itself as a cause of the problem. There are not enough parking spaces because there are too many cars. Ideological reasoning is the use of cultural, religious, or moral values and beliefs to prove a position. While there is nothing wrong with making personal judgments, you should be aware that your audience might not share your ideological views. To reach the greatest number of readers, avoid making ideological reasons the foundation of your arguments.
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