Refraction (Bent Thinking) #3 Straw Man

Straw Man Argument (Fallacy Of Extension/Caricature Fallacy) =  Taking what someone thinks is a weakness in the other person’s argument and blowing it out of proportion, then acting like this “caricature” is the real position of the other person. Then they attack that created position.  This can be used against individuals or groups. When used against groups, it often accompanied but the Fallacy of Division (which says that what is true of the whole of something must be true of each of its parts). I will bring this to y’all tomorrow. Refutation: 1) Make sure that you state your positions clearly so that it makes it less likely that others will be able to  mis-state your position and make claims about your exact position that you simply do not hold and never stated by you anywhere.  2)  If you are NOT being inconsistent, demonstrate why – show why your two positions are not contrary to one another.  2)  If you are inconsistent, then thank the other side for pointing out your error … and commit yourself to using better critical reasoning next time.

Real Example: “The religious, conservative, group which consistently reiterates the need for government to get out of people’s lives are, in a stroke of almost sheer irony, the ones who want to use the legal arm of the law to do the opposite [keep marriage only for opposite gender].” The weakness is perceived inconsistency of arguing for less government while also arguing for more government intrusion.  Of course, if this is the case, it would be logically inconsistent and open to attack and ridicule.  People who want less intrusion should be specific about what they do and don’t want. If you want less intrusion in business or tax regulation, state that.  One the other hand, it is slightly disingenuous to label keeping existing laws as they are as wanting more government.


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