Saturday, September 02, 2006

Logical Fallacies, Part 9: Guilt by Association

The guilt by association rhetorical flaw arises when the writer unreasonably associates an opponent or a proposition with a guilty party. It is related to the red herring (see the previous entry, August 26, 2006). Example:

How can we elect a man who served under an impeached president?

The thinking is flawed because of its assumption that anyone associated with the impeached president must be just like the impeached president.

Conversely, Check your endorsements as well. Equally misleading could be honor by association, in which the writer unreasonably associates an ally or a proposition with an esteemed party. Example:

The fact that the employee leave policy is supported by Governor Richford is sufficient reason to establish it.

Reasonable people expect more evidence than a governor’s endorsement to support a claim.

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