Fallacies Intro

Hasty Generalization – Drawing a conclusion based on a small sample size, rather than looking at statistics that are much more in line with the typical or average situation. Jumping to conclusions. Where stereotypes come from.

Example #1:

“Easter was originally a pagan fertility goddess celebration. Therefore, if  you celebrate Easter you are worshiping Satan.”

Example #2:

“My father smoked four packs of cigarettes a day since age fourteen and lived until age sixty-nine.  Therefore, smoking really can’t be that bad for you.”

Ad Hominen – (of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining. An ad hominem argument is one that is used to counter another argument; but, it is based on feelings or prejudice, rather than facts, reason or logic. It is often a personal attack on one’s character rather than an attempt to address the issue at hand.

Example #1: 

“A politician degrading another politician during a political campaign when asked about a specific policy, e.g. “Well, I think we need to look at the other candidate’s failures regarding this topic.”

Example #2: 

“He’s not a great athlete; he’s a fraud, a cheat and a liar. That’s why not everybody is “happy for Lance.”

Arguing a Solution

  1. Position. Take a clear position on an arguable topic.
  2. Reasons. Develop main reasons, keeping audience in mind.
  3. Evidence. Support all reasons with strong research.
  4. Opposition. Acknowledge the opposing argument and take it out.


Audience is quite possibly the most important thing to consider when writing an argument. You need to appeal to them, understand their problems, values, and beliefs, in order to convince them of your point of view.

Who your audience is should influence how you present your argument.

Who your audience is should influence how you present yourself.

Determine what is important to your audience. What do they really care about?


Ethos is about values. In rhetoric we connect ethos to character, credibility, and trustworthiness. At their core, these concepts have to do with values. We tend to believe and trust those individuals who exemplify the values we cherish, who live the sort of life that we would want to live.

 Ethos Handout from University of Maryland

5 Ways to Persuade with Character (Ethos) | How to Craft an Argument


Ethos is inferred, NOT possessed. Five strategies for persuading through character from the video.

  1. Personal info
  2. Sources
  3. Identification with Audience
  4. Point of View
  5. Balanced Presentation


Bjørn Lomborg “The Limits of Panic” (p. 92)

What is the article’s argument? 

Who is the audience for the article?

How does it build Ethos?


How can you build ethos in your argument essay?