Formal fallacy

In philosophy, a formal fallacy is a pattern of reasoning rendered invalid by a flaw in its logical structure that can neatly be expressed in a standard logic system, for example propositional logic. An argument that is formally fallacious is always considered wrong. A formal fallacy is contrasted with an informal fallacy, which may have a valid logical form and yet be unsound because one or more premises are false.

The presence of a formal fallacy in a deductive argument does not imply anything about the argument’s premises or its conclusion. Both may actually be true, or even more probable as a result of the argument, but the deductive argument is still invalid because the conclusion does not follow from the premises in the manner described. By extension, an argument can contain a formal fallacy even if the argument is not a deductive one; for instance an inductive argument that incorrectly applies principles of probability or causality can be said to commit a formal fallacy.

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