Decision Making Is Contingent on Term Paper

Total Length: 1316 words ( 4 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: -8

Page 1 of 4

According to Halpern (1996, p. 197), arguments that utilize irrelevant reasons are fairly common: "The Latin word for this sort of fallacy is non-sequitur, which literally translates to 'it doesn't follow.' In other words, the reason or premise is unrelated to the conclusion." Since relevant premises are a key criteria for building sound arguments, it follows that critical thinkers must learn to recognize and avoid such fallacies.

However, in the real world this is perhaps easier said than done since the use of force often tends to sway decisions in favor of the person who is making the threat, implied or otherwise. An example that comes readily to mind is the manner in which advertisers have coerced sports bodies to disallow ambush marketing: "It is important that any sports body has the right to control what is being brought into their protect the millions of pounds of investment that sport's commercial partners make...." (PTI, 2004)

The Straw Man Fallacy straw person is weak and easy to knock down. This is exactly what happens in a straw man argument where a weak form of the opponent's argument is set up and then knocked down. This technique is used when an opponent to a particular conclusion distorts the argument in support of the conclusion and substitutes one that is much weaker (Halpern, 1996, p. 198). Thus, the straw man fallacy is in operation in reasoning that states, "Pete has argued that the New York Yankees are a better baseball team than the Atlanta Braves. But the Braves aren't a bad team. They have a great pitching staff, and they consistently finish at or near the top of their division. Obviously, Pete doesn't know what he's talking about."

Again, the use of irrelevant reasons is evident in the straw man form of argument as well. Therefore, its significance in critical thinking is much the same as the first two logical fallacies or tricks of persuasion that have been discussed in this paper.
The use of the straw man argument is also as common as the other two, especially in competitive business situations. Thus, it is important for a decision maker to pay close attention to the soundness of the argument being made: "Sun's attacks on Red Hat amount to straw man tactics.... Granted, Sun's top-tier support contracts offer some of the industry's finest corporate support. But instead of telling us about how good the company is at supporting stuff, Sun's representative hit us with more distortions and fabrications about the GNU/Linux industry." (Matzan, 2004)

Summary good argument must satisfy the criteria of relevance, sufficiency, and acceptability. Thus, a fallacious argument is one that violates one or more of these criteria (Blair, 1996, p. 178). This paper has focused on only three such fallacious arguments, all of which violate the criteria of relevance. However, it is important to note that such irrelevant reasoning is unfortunately all too common. Therefore, it is vital for critical thinkers and decision makers to be constantly on the watch out for such irrelevancies.


Blair, J.A., Grootendorst, R.F., Henkemans, F.S., Johnson, R.H., Krabbe, E.C.W., Plantin,

C.H., Van Eemeren, F.H., Walton, D.N., Willard, C.A., Woods, J.A., Zarefsky, D.F. (1996). Fundamentals of Argumentation Theory: A Handbook of Historical Backgrounds and Contemporary Developments. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Cohen, E. (2004, January). Arthur Anderson refugees reflect on what went wrong. Notre Dame Magazine. Retrieved Nov. 23, 2004:

Halpern, D.F. (1996). Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking.

Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Matzan, J. (2004, November 18). Commentary: Linux is not Red Hat, and other Sun-isms debunked. News Force: The Online Newspaper for Linux and Open Source. Retrieved Nov. 23, 2004:

PTI. (2004, August 28). ICC to be ruthless against ambush marketing.

Retrieved Nov. 23, 2004:

Have Any Questions? Our Expert Writers Can Answer!

Need Help Writing Your Essay?