Apr 26, 1996
This Magazine Article published as Logical Fallacies: Index in Chinese Community Forum 9617 Online Apr 26, 1996. China-Net [Link] [Info] [List all Publications]
Below is the Chinese Community Forum issue number 9617 in which an index of my logical fallacies list was published. I preserve it in plain text format.
Date sent: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 14:23:11 -0700 To: "Stephen Downes"
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Newton X. Liu) Subject: CCF 9617 Dear Stephen: As requested, here is the issue of CCF in which we included your fallacy index. Thanks a lot for the permission, again. Feel free to contact us if you have any thing to say or questions to ask. With best regards, Newton ===+==+==+== C h i n e s e C o m m u n i t y F o r u m ==+==+==+=== Wednesday, April 24, 1996 (Issue No. 9617) +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= Chinese Community Forum (CCF) is an e-journal published on China-Net. CCF is dedicated to the discussion on the issues related to the Chinese community. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the Editorial Board of CCF. Contributions to the discussions and suggestions of new topics are very much appreciated. +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+= # of Table of Contents Author | Lines ===========***==========***==========**==========***==========***=========== -- Chinese Politics -- 1. For the First Time in History.............................Dave Sheng 55 2. Who Can Overthrow the Chinese Government? ............... Liu Binyan 113 -- Better Your English -- 3. Logical Fallacies: Index ............................. Stephen Downes 122 ===========***==========***==========**==========***==========***=========== ----- From the Editor ------- First of all, due to conflicts of schedules and our own carelessness, we apologize for missing a regular issue of CCF last week. We will try our best not to commit the same error in the future. This week, we begin with an essay written by Dave Sheng who from his point of view examines the meaning of the "historical first in China's history" regarding the election on Taiwan. Then Liu Binyan, the author of "Tell the World" and other books about the June 4 movement, discusses the Wei Jingsheng situation, and asks the rhetorical question: "Who Can Overthrow the Chinese Government?" Speaking of rhetoric, we bring a CCF special inspired by the Better Your English series, this time turning toward the use of logical fallacies in formal argumentation. Many of us think an argument that is stirring or "makes sense" is true erudition, when in truth it is based on a foundation of sand. Arguments using the solid grounding in logic provided by this list will be much more meaningful and lead to coherent dialog as opposed to cheap oratory. ===========***==========***==========**==========***==========***=========== 1. For the First Time in History.............................Dave Sheng 55 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- That was the line used by Lee Teng Hui after the Taiwanese Presidential Election: for the first time in the 5,000 years Chinese history, we have had a direct election for President and set up a model for the mainland to follow. And he asked, when could mainland have a direct election for president? So we should really be thrilled by yet another "first time", shouldn't we? Wouldn't it be interesting to see how useful the framework of "first time" is? Believe it or not, we live in a peorid of history that has been abundant for the "first time in history". Bear in mind as you read this article that CCF as an electronic journal, put together by editors scattered around the world and coordinated by emails, and sent to your account by the internet, is part of the "first time" in the thousands years of human history. When you look at the last 15 years in China, with its phenominan growth effecting 1 billion people, it is another first time in history that such a large population is going through such a profound and fast transformation in every way of life. A little further back, it was 30 years ago the Culture Revolution started. It was another first in the 5,000 years of Chinese history, when China was infatuated by a fervent and religious sense of reolutionary radicalism and went on a rampage of destruction. Yet, 15 years earlier in 1949, everything looked so hopeful. For the first time in Chinese history, there was a People's Republic, which changed China forever, and established a new government which could exert control from top to the villiage level, completely different from the kind of scholar-gentry Confucious system that dominated China for thousands of years. The 20th century's first in Chinese history list could go on and on, from the 1911 Revolution to the bridges over Yangtse River to the first airplane made in China to the introduction of one-child per family policy to... Shall we feel thrilled? Maybe yes. We indeed live in a time of profound changes. Indeed, in Chinese history, we haven't gone through so much change in our way of life since the Waring Peorid 2,000 years ago. But before we get carried away by the glory, let's also remember the many "firsts" in our recent history are accompanied by broken dreams, and by political disasters like the Culture Revolution and the Civil War in which millions perished. Being first may be glorious, but glorious may not be a blessing. As an analytical framework, being first may have little to offer. Using the Taiwan experience, advocated by Lee Teng Hui, as an example, it has little to do with Taiwan being the first in 5000 years Chinese history for democratic election. In fact, Taiwan experience has little to do with democracy. On the contrary, Taiwan was a well-known example of an economic miracle achieved under political dictatorship, although the many mainland Chinese who cheered Taiwan's election tend to forget the historical fact after witnessing yet another first in 5000 years. While watching Lee Teng Hui making that "first in 5000 years" statement, do you feel it sounds familiar? It was written in our textbook back in China:"For thousands of years, the working people, under the oppression of feudal and reactionary exploiting class, hoped for the day of the light. They rebeled one time after another, repeatedly, but each ended in failure. But now for the FIRST TIME, we have found Marxism-Leninism and we have found the Communist party. Under its leadership, we finally overthrow the reactionary oppresion. For the first time in history, the poor and working people in China are now the host of our country!" "For the first time in history", isn't it exciting? But we know better, don't we? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Who can Overthrow the Chinese Government? ............... Liu Binyan 113 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was sixteen years ago that Wei Jingsheng was first convicted. At that time, Deng Xiaoping's reform program had just begun and people in China, who had just emerged from the nightmare of the Cultural Revolution and were beginning to enjoy the new prospects from the reform, were full of hope for the future. But now in 1995 when Wei was again convicted, the reforms have bogged down and the future of China is bleak and uncertain... >From what we have witnessed in 1995 it is clear that the Chinese regime is no longer capable of solving all the imminent problems it faces, both all of the problems of reform as well as those stemming from the reform process. At the conference on the national economy which was convened at the end of 1995, the Central Committee of the party declared that economic retrenchment, the so-called "micro management" which began in 1993, should continue, despite repeated warnings from economists that it had already caused severe economic setbacks and needed to be discontinued by the end of 1994 at the latest. According to optimistic official estimations, the inflation rate has dropped from 21 percent at the end of 1994 to the current less than 15 percent. If this is so, then the leaders should be reassured and be willing to slacken the money market. But they still want to continue the retrenchment. Why? Because the heads of the Central Committee realize very clearly that the decrease in the inflation rate has only been achieved as a result of administrative measures. Subsidies for foodstuffs in Beijing have increased 174 percent from 1994 -- how can any government sustain such high subsidies? 1995 also proved to be a year of irony for the first and foremost achievement from Deng's reforms: the solving of the problem of shortages in grain production. In 1995, the grain shortages became more and more severe. China stopped all exports of grain and imports increased two-folds; yet the price of grain still doubled. According to a joint Sino-Japanese survey, there were 12 grain-deficient provinces in 1993 and this figure will increase to 22 provinces by the year 2010. All of the efforts that the Communist regime has taken in this area have been in vain: the area of arable land is still shrinking and the young and able-bodied farmers are still deserting agriculture and flocking to the cities... The leaders of the party have repeatedly called for a reduction of the excessive burdens on the peasantry. But the irony is that the more they make statements and the more they issue documents, the heavier the farmers' burdens. When Vice Premier Zhu Rongji inspected Guangxi province at the beginning of 1993, he said: "The extortion in some localities is very severe, leaving peasants with no choice but to hang themselves. This time we discovered nine suicide cases. How many cases actually occurred, no one knows." But according to an official survey released at the beginning of 1995, the suicide rate in urban areas is 8.7 cases for every 100,000 residents and in rural areas the figure is 21.4 for every 100,000. The urban figure is similar to the average worldwide figure as released by WHO, but the suicide rate in Chinese rural areas is among the highest in the world. Of course this does not mean that the rural people are more pessimistic than their counterparts in the cities. After repeated calls from the central government to reduce the peasants' burdens, the burden inflicted on peasants in Jilin province in the first three quarters of 1995 increased 87 percent as compared to 1994, in Heilongjiang province the figure was 120 percent, in Jiangsu, 87 percent. Under the call for a "Great Leap Forward" issued by Deng Xiaoping in 1992, local officials went into a frenzy to set up necessary or unnecessary projects just to show off their accomplishments. Needless to say, the burden for the funding of these projects, for the expenses for the extravagant government operations, and for the luxuries enjoyed by the leaders all shifted to the peasants. The ratio of incomes between urban residents and peasants has increased from 1:156 in 1949 to 1:2.6 in 1994; it is even higher than the 1978 ratio (1:2.37), one year before the reforms. This figure does not include such factors as the higher commodity prices in the rural areas and the subsidies and welfare benefits for the urban people since 1949 which the peasants have never had the fortune to enjoy. As to the 80 million young peasants who have flocked into the cities to seek jobs, they have been treated much worse than illegal immigrant workers in western countries. In Shenzhen, the so-called "window of reform," peasant workers usually have to toil over ten hours a day with no overtime compensation and they do not enjoy even minimum labor protection or compensation for industrial injuries; and they are paid much less than urban workers. Many lead lives of slaves or prisoners and some are even locked up. In the fires that broke out in the Shenzhen factories since 1994, several hundred female workers were burnt to death and many of those who lived were permanently handicapped. The authorities made special efforts for a news blockade in 1995 so that much of the true situation is unknown to the rest of the world. An uprising of over a hundred thousand peasants in Fuzhou district of Jiangxi province when the homes of corrupt officials were looted and peasant riots in a small town near Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, have all been hidden from the outside world, even from Chinese in other provinces. Before Wei Jingsheng was convicted, the clashes between Hunan peasants and the Shenzhen police where peasants were ruthlessly massacred by machine guns only came to light because they occurred in Shenzhen, a place too close to Hong Kong that there could be no cover-up. The frequent strikes and demonstrations by the 20 million unemployed workers or those who receive no pay from their factories is the most worrisome problem for the Communist authorities. The long talked about reform of state-owned enterprises was stopped precisely because the leaders feared possible disturbances among the workers. The incompetence of the regime to control the corruption of officials, to reduce the gap between the rich and poor, and to solve the social problems has made the people increasingly angry. The stagflation which began in 1995 and the decline in living standards have exacerbated their anger. All of these crises have deepened the discord within the ranks of the Communist party: the dissatisfaction and dissent among cadres at different levels has placed great pressures even on the top echelon. It is the opposition from within the "fortress" itself which alarms the Communist party the most. Therefore, one important motivation for re-convicting Wei Jingsheng was to intimidate the opposition forces both within and without the Communist party. The prosecutors are perfectly clear that Wei Jingsheng's power to overthrow the government can never be compared with the forces created by the corruption and incompetence of the government which has ruled the country for nearly half a century. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Logical Fallacies: Index .......................... Stephen Downes 122 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- (Editor's note: since CCF is a forum dedicated to open discussion and debate, we think that it serves all of us right to take a look at some common but yet often unnoticed logical fallacies we all have committed at one time or another. Also we wish to mention here that this index is hosted by the rhetoric server at http://www.common.net/~downes/fallacy/index.htm For those who are interested in the full text of Stephen Downes' Guide to Logical Fallacies or the subject of rhetoric and composition, the rhetoric server can be a wonderful resource.) Logical Fallacies Index: Fallacies of Distraction False Dilemma: two choices are given when in fact there are three options From Ignorance: because something is not known to be true, it is assumed to be false Slippery Slope: a series of increasingly unacceptable consequences is drawn Complex Question: two unrelated points are conjoined as a single proposition Appeals to Motives in Place of Support Appeal to Force: the reader is persuaded to agree by force Appeal to Pity: the reader is persuaded to agree by sympathy Consequences: the reader is warned of unacceptable consequences Prejudicial Language: value or moral goodness is attached to believing the author Popularity: a proposition is argued to be true because it is widely held to be true Changing the Subject Attacking the Person: (1) the person's character is attacked (2) the person's circumstances are noted (3) the person does not practise what is preached Appeal to Authority: (1) the authority is not an expert in the field (2) experts in the field disagree (3) the authority was joking, drunk, or in some other way not being serious Anonymous Authority: the authority in question is not named Style Over Substance: the manner in which an argument (or arguer) is presented is felt to affect the truth of the conclusion Inductive Fallacies Hasty Generalization: the sample is too small to support an inductive generalization about a population Unrepresentative Sample: the sample is unrepresentative of the sample as a whole False Analogy: the two objects or events being compared are relevantly dissimilar Slothful Induction: the conclusion of a strong inductive argument is denied despite the evidence to the contrary Fallacy of Exclusion: evidence which would change the outcome of an inductive argument is excluded from consideration Fallacies Involving Statistical Syllogisms Accident: a generalization is applied when circumstances suggest that there should be an exception Converse Accident: an exception is applied in circumstances where a generalization should apply Causal Fallacies Post Hoc: because one thing follows another, it is held to cause the other Joint effect: one thing is held to cause another when in fact they are both the joint effects of an underlying cause Insignificant: one thing is held to cause another, and it does, but it is insignificant compared to other causes of the effect Wrong Direction: the direction between cause and effect is reversed Complex Cause: the cause identified is only a part of the entire cause of the effect Missing the Point Begging the Question: the truth of the conclusion is assumed by the premises Irrelevant Conclusion: an argument in defense of one conclusion instead proves a different conclusion Straw Man: the author attacks an argument different from (and weaker than) the opposition's best argument Fallacies of Ambiguity Equivocation: the same term is used with two different meanings Amphiboly: the structure of a sentence allows two different interpretations Accent: the emphasis on a word or phrase suggests a meaning contrary to what the sentence actually says Category Errors Composition: because the attributes of the parts of a whole have a certain property, it is argued that the whole has that property Division: because the whole has a certain property, it is argued that the parts have that property Non Sequitur Affirming the Consequent: any argument of the form: If A then B, B, therefore A Denying the Antecedent: any argument of the form: If A then B, Not A, thus Not B Inconsistency: asserting that contrary or contradictory statements are both true Syllogistic Errors Fallacy of Four Terms: a syllogism has four terms Undistributed Middle: two separate categories are said to be connected because they share a common property Illicit Major: the predicate of the conclusion talks about all of something, but the premises only mention some cases of the term in the predicate Illicit Minor: the subject of the conclusion talks about all of something, but the premises only mention some cases of the term in the subject Fallacy of Exclusive Premises: a syllogism has two negative premises Fallacy of Drawing an Affirmative Conclusion From a Negative Premise: as the name implies Existential Fallacy: a particular conclusion is drawn from universal premises +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ + Executive Editor: Greg Kemnitz + + Associate Editor: C. 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