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False Dilemma: A Systematic Exposition
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Metaphysics.
2013 (English)In: Argumentation: an international journal on reasoning, ISSN 0920-427X, E-ISSN 1572-8374, Vol. 27, no 4, 347-368 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

False dilemma is a specific form of reasoning: despite the fact that it is based on a deductively valid argument form, it is rightly depicted as fallacy. A systematic exposition of false dilemma is missing in theoretical approaches to fallacies. This article formulates six criteria for a well-grounded exposition of a fallacy, suggesting also a systematic exposition of false dilemma. These criteria can be used to both explain, and categorise, the various false dilemma fallacies. The article introduces distinction between four types of false dilemma (and the respective subtypes): (1) False quandary, (2) Defeasible sound quandary, (3) False obstruction and (4) Defeasible sound obstruction. The types of criticism appropriate for each variant of false dilemma are suggested. Being able to discover false dilemma in situations when it is important to make good and free choices is a significant dimension of critical thinking. It may liberate us from accepting the consequences that necessarily follow from prearranged alternatives, when these are not the only alternatives possible. It may also liberate us from refraining from actions on the basis of obstructive disjunctive statements. In that respect, the faculty of critical thinking directed at uncovering reasoning based on false dilemma may also initiate the discovery of new alternatives, or discover the ways of unifying seemingly opposing alternatives. Thus, a well-developed ability to understand the tricky argumentative moves of false dilemma may be a good step towards initiating some features of creative thinking.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 27, no 4, 347-368 p.
Keyword [en]
False dilemma, Constructive dilemma, Destructive dilemma, Fallacies, Fallacy, Argumentation structure, Defeasible argument, Critical thinking, Argument criticism, Argumentation theory
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-211764DOI: 10.1007/s10503-013-9292-0ISI: 000326374800001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-211764DiVA: diva2:669119
Available from: 2013-12-03 Created: 2013-12-02 Last updated: 2013-12-03Bibliographically approved

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