The 8 types of formal errors (and examples)

In the world of philosophy and psychology, the concept of error is very important, because it gives an idea of ​​the quality of reasoning that we can use to argue a point of view.

What is an error? It is simply an error of reasoning, a kind of argument in which the premises used do not lead to the conclusion. In fact, the term is derived from the word “I will fail,” which means to lie or to deceive. In other words, it serves to emphasize the misleading nature of these arguments.

But recognizing a mistake is not easy, because it can take different forms. In reality, There are many types of errors, some of which are not the same. It is important to know them well if you want to validly guarantee the quality of the debates and the processes of knowledge generation. After all, a “badada” can make the conclusion completely wrong.

Formal and informal errors

The most general classification that can be made of errors is what distinguishes formal and informal errors. While in the latter the error of reasoning has to do with the content of the propositions, in the formal fallacies the error of reasoning resides in the way in which the propositions relate to each other. Therefore, formal errors are always objectively so, while in the case of informal prosecutions, a debate is generated as to whether or not there is an argumentation error, as their nature always depends on the context in which they are. used.

For example, trying to discredit an idea by talking about the negatives of saying it’s an ad hominem error, but the same is not true if talking about the person arguing gives relevant information that needs to be brought up. . If the person who decides to focus the debate on a worker’s misconduct is known to try to intimidate him. In the case of formal errors, there is no species in the discussion, in any case one can examine whether the concepts used are correct (for example, if the same word has two different meanings throughout the ‘logical operation).

In this article, we will focus on analyzing the types of formal errors. To learn more about the types of errors in general, you can read this article.

Types of formal errors and examples

Below we will review the main types of formal errors.

1. False disjunctive syllogism

In this error, it is based on a disjunction of the style “A and / or B”. When one of the possibilities is stated, the other is assumed to be false. Of course, this conclusion does not follow from the premises.

Example: “You can eat or shower if you wish. You shower, therefore you are not going to eat. This error is not such when the disjunction is exclusive:” or A or B. “

2. Affirmation of the consequence

In this formal error, we assume that if a premise is trueThen the consequence of this premise also indicates whether its predecessor is true or not.

Example: “If I study hard, I will get the highest mark, so if I get the highest mark, I will have studied a lot.”

3. Substantive denial

In this kind of formal error the reasoning is articulated as if, by denying a premise, its conclusion must necessarily be false.

Example: “If it rains, the street will be wet, it hasn’t rained, so the street won’t be wet.”

4. Misleading conjunction denial

This error occurs when by not producing a phenomenon as a result of a set of elements, one of these elements is refused.

Example: “To make a good cake, you need flour and cream; there is no good cake left, so no cream has been put on.”

5. Medium not distributed

In this error there is an item that connects to two others that does not appear in the conclusion, Although one of them does not include it in its entirety.

Example: “All mammals have eyes, some mollusks have eyes, so some mollusks are mammals.”

6. Categorical syllogism with negative premises

this mistake it occurs in any categorical syllogism in which the two premises are a negation, Since from them nothing can be concluded.

Example: “No mammal has feathers, no mouse has feathers, therefore no mammal is a mouse.”

7.Categorical syllogism with negative conclusion based on affirmative premises

In categorical syllogisms a negative conclusion cannot be drawn from affirmative premisesAnd to do so is to fall into fallacious reasoning.

Example: “All Germans are Europeans and some Christians are Europeans, so Christians are not Germans.”

8. Four-term error

In this error there are four terms, instead of three, that would be needed for it to be valid. This is because one of the terms has two meanings.

Example: “Man is the only animal capable of domesticating fire, woman is not a man, therefore woman cannot domesticate fire.”

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