How To Win Every Argument Book PDF

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How To Win Every Argument

Sound reasoning is the basis of winning an argument. Logical fallacies undermine arguments. They are a source of enduring fascination and have been studied for at least two-and-a-half millennia.

Knowledge of them is useful, both to avoid those used inadvertently by others and even to use a few with intent to deceive.

The fascination and the usefulness which they impart, however, should not be allowed to conceal the pleasure that identifying them can give.

I take a very broad view of fallacies. Any trick of logic or language which allows a statement or a claim to be passed off as something it does not have an admission card to the enclosure reserved for fallacies.

Very often it is the case that what appears to be a supporting argument for a particular contention does not support it at all.

Sometimes it might be a deduction drawn from evidence that does not sustain it.

Many of the fallacies are committed by people genuinely ignorant of logical reasoning, the nature of evidence, or what counts as relevant material.

Others, however, might be committed by persons bent on deception. If there is the insufficient force behind the argument and the evidence, fallacies can add enough weight to carry them through.

This book is intended as a practical guide for those who wish to win arguments. It also teaches how to perpetuate fallacies with mischief at heart and malice aforethought.

I have described each fallacy, given examples of it, and shown why it is fallacious. After any points of general interest concerning the history of occurrence of the fallacy,

I have given the reader recommendations on how and where the fallacy may be used to deceive with maximum effect.


The fallacy of accident supposes that the freak features of an exceptional case are enough to justify rejection of a general rule.

The features in question may be ‘accidental’, having no bearing on the matter under contention, and may easily be identified as an unusual and allowable exception.

We should reject the idea that it is just to repay what is owed. Supposing a man lends you weapons, and then goes insane? Surely it cannot be just to put weapons into the hands of a madman.

(This fallacy, used by Plato, lies in not recognizing that the insanity is an ‘accident’, in that it is a freak circumstance unrelated to the central topic, and readily admitted to be a special case.)
Almost every generalization could be objected to on the grounds that one could think of ‘accidental’ cases it did not cover.

Most of the general statements about the consequences 6 How to Win Every Argument which follow upon certain actions could be overturned on the grounds that they did not cover the case of a meteorite striking the perpetrator before the consequences had occurred.

To maintain this would be to commit the fallacy of accident.

It is a fallacy to treat a general statement as if it were an unqualified universal, admitting no exceptions. To do so is to invest it with a significance and a rigour which it was never intended to bear. Most of our generalizations carry an implicit qualification that they apply, all other things being equal.

If other things are not equal, such as the presence of insanity or a meteorite, the exceptions can be allowed without overturning the general claim.

WriterMadsen Pirie
Pdf Size2.36 MB
CategorySelf Improvement


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