As I have written before, I love taxonomies. In fact, one of the strongest arguments against an all-loving, all-powerful, intervening, immaterial spirit or god is that everything in the world is not easy to classify and that diagrams can’t capture all useful truth. Well, that argument carries similar weight to the observation that cocaine is bad for you.
Maybe all of this is simply evidence that the world is controlled by an large-footed evil demon. Either way, in this godless, demonic world I will continue to futilely try and capture reality in charts and taxonomies.
Rhetorical tricks and mistakes have been noted from antiquity and putting them into taxonomies has a long history too. However there is no agreement on fallacy names or their proper taxonomy. Instead, we have overlapping names and categories. The Great Demon again laughs at our anthropocentric mental arrogance.
Nonetheless, one of the most useful taxonomies I have found is the fallacy files which uses the basic taxonomy to the right. If you look at the link, you will see that this taxonomy has layers of subtlety including some overlapping and many sub-categories.
When I think of why arguments fail, I like to include “cognitive mistakes” as a category. So below is a 3-category model which I find helpful. Appropriately, I make the three areas overlap to give me lots of wiggle room. I will use this taxonomy later, but wanted to introduce it in a short post.
Question to readers: What is your favorite taxonomy for fallacies? Do you have a favorite webpage?