Fallacy Journal II: Piers Morgan Edition

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I’ve got to do a fallacy journal (for a class) based on 15 informal logical fallacies.1 The fallacies are to be pulled from every day mediums such as reading, TV, social media, etc.

I first shared some fallacy findings in Fallacy Journal I. I will share a few more findings in the same-sex marriage debate below featuring Ryan Anderson versus Piers Morgan and Suze Orman. And if anyone cares to explore these fallacies further here is an online fallacy list.

Division – argues without warrant what is true the group must be true of its parts.

Morgan uses this approach throughout and it seems to be the underlying premise for most of the debate. For example, since Americans like Anderson (even prisoners) can marry who they love, therefore Americans like Orman and all homosexuals should be able to marry whom they love too. This argument is built on a faulty premise of what marriage is which is what many miss or ignore in this debate.

Straw man – misrepresents the opposing position.

Note that Anderson’s book introduced first and is titled What Is Marriage?Man and Woman: A Defense which clearly deals with marriage being defined as between a man and a woman.

However, Morgan starts with a straw man which misrepresents Anderson’s position asking, “Ryan, why are you so opposed to gay people getting married?”

Fallacy of Complex Question – is loaded with assumption so the opponent is guilty no matter the answer.

Again, from the Anderson – Morgan debate. At about 2:40 Morgan begins asking Anderson about prisoners’ rights to marry asking, “You would rather defend a prisoner’s right to get married than you would Suze Orman’s right to get married to her partner?”

If Anderson simply answers “no” then it appears he is not in favor of prisoners marrying. If he simply says “yes” then Morgan has not only been allowed to re-define the topic again, but it seems as though Anderson wants greater rights for convicted criminals than for Orman and all homosexuals.

Appeal to Unreliable Authority (Ad Verecundiam) – when someone is appealed to who is not a legitimate authority on the topic in question.

At about the 3:20 mark, Morgan appeals to Suzie Orman as a reason to accept same-sex marriage. Morgan tries to reason from the position that because Orman is a “successful, American business icon” she should have the right to marry her girlfriend whom she’s been with in a 12 year relationship.

Appeal to Ignorance (Ad Ignorantiam) – since something has not been proven true (or false) it must be false (or true).

At about time 6:50, Morgan notes to Anderson that the Constitution does not state that same-sex couples cannot marry, Anderson is only assuming his position, therefore Anderson is wrong.

Appeal to the People (Ad Populum) – a claim should be accepted as true because of majority approval.

At about the 12:26, Suze Orman appeals to the audience present to disagree with Anderson’s point that marriage is not really about children. There is no indication that this anonymous audience is an authority – reliable or otherwise – in any way.

So what did I miss? What did I get wrong?

  1. The 15 fallacies are taken from The Power of Logic by C. Stephen Layman. They are: Argument Against the Person (Ad Hominem), Straw Man, Appeal to Force (Ad Baculum), Appeal to the People (Ad Populum), Appeal to Pity (Ad Misericordiam), Appeal to Ignorance (Ad Ignorantiam), Equivocation, Amphiboly, Composition, Division, Begging the Question (Petitio Principii), False Dilemma, Appeal to Unreliable Authority (Ad Verecundiam), False Cause Fallacy, and Fallacy of Complex Question.
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