Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Living on the Edge - Errors of Argument

Errors of argument are all too readily found in arguments made by people, irrespective of whether they are theists or non-theists. Needless to say, they erode the credibility of any argument. The theist who wishes to present a rational case for Christ needs to ensure that his argument is free from such errors. From the forthcoming book "Living on the Edge":

1. Avoiding scholarly consensus

Failing to seek out (or avoiding), the established scholarly consensus on an issue, or concealing this information from readers. 

2. Artificial levels of credulity

Accepting sympathetic sources[1] uncritically despite their lack of scholarly standing, whilst rejecting more scholarly and authoritative sources which are antagonistic,[2] claiming they are insufficiently convincing. 

3. Confirmation bias

Overwhelmingly selecting sources sympathetic to the view already held, whilst ignoring or dismissing antagonistic sources. 

4. Factual errors

Making factually inaccurate statements. 

5. False neutrality

Observing correctly that a particular argument is inconclusive due to inadequate or ambiguous evidence, and then appealing to it later as if it had been decisively proven. 

6. Inflating authority

Exaggerating the value or authority of a particular source. 

7. Inflating evidence

Exaggerating the amount or quality of evidence for a given argument. 

8. Manufacturing controversy

Presenting the appearance of scholarly controversy despite scholarly consensus. 

9. Selective tolerance

Tolerating a perceived fault in a sympathetic source, but identifying it as a critical flaw in an antagonistic source.

[1] A sympathetic source is a source which supports or acknowledges evidence for the case being made.

[2] An antagonistic source is a source which rejects or denies evidence for the case being made.