[extropy-chat] Appeal to Authority

Ian Goddard iamgoddard at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 16 17:00:29 UTC 2006

--- Amara Graps <amara at amara.com> wrote:

> >I can't find a good explanation of why "appeal to
> >authority" is a fallacy or at worst something not 
> >properly done in argument. 
> I'm surprised you didn't find good information on
> it. Appeal to Authority is one of the logical 
> fallacies. If you Google that ("fallacies 
> argument") it comes up. Here's one of
> the first that pops up:
> http://www.intrepidsoftware.com/fallacy/toc.php  

 Well, that page is an example I had in mind of not
explaining in any mechanical sense *why* appeal to
authority is a "fallacy." And in my view it's not a
fallacy in the strict sense like for example
'affirming the consequent' is. That's why I expressed
appeal to authority as a reasonable scientific
hypothesis that is not inherently fallacious and can
even be worth noting as an aside. 

 But in argument, appeal to authority is just a second
claim added to the debate of a first claim that then
requires establishing the first claim to support that
second claim, so it's a null move. For me, that may be
a better explanation than just calling it an official

 Appeal to authority must be a fallacy, after all it's
listed as such by authorities on argument! ;^)

 As usual, Hal makes good points in his reply. Note
also that a list of references to authoritative
literature is on the surface a naked appeal to
authority, AND it's an appeal any good paper should
want to make. But what's relevant is the empirical
data and data-analyses found at those references,
which strips away the appeal itself. In short, the
real meat of a scientific argument is the empirical
data central to given claims under review. 

> http://www.barbarabranden.com/thinking.html

 Thanks, I'll look it up. ~Ian

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