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Copy of Logical Fallacies from The Crucible

Logical Fallacies

Melanie Huynh-Duc

on 25 September 2017

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Transcript of Copy of Logical Fallacies from The Crucible

As demonstrated in
The Crucible
by Arthur Miller

Logical Fallacies
Ad Hominem
-Giving two choices when in actuality there could be more choices possible.
False Dilemma
Either Or
Fallacy that uses tradition to lead people to believe that the historical preference is correct and should be followed.

Puritans were very religious and focused on tradition; behavior that was not out of the ordinary was regarded as suspicious or evil.
Appeal to Tradition
adapted by Mrs. H-D
AP English Language

Begging The Question;
Circular Argument

Guilt by Association
-Poisoning the well is a logical fallacy in which a
negative comment is spoken out against a person so their
argument is discredited.
Poisoning the Well
False Cause Fallacy

This fallacy is when an argument that one event caused another to happen when it was merely a coincidence.
-The rejection of an argument because
the person in support of an argument is associated with someone who
is disliked.
A form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is believed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself.
Definition: Telling the listener/opponent that something bad will happen to him if he does not accept the argument.
Introducing a topic not related
to the subject at hand
xample from
The Crucible
Parris: "Beware this man, Your Excellency, this man is mischief."
Appeal to Pity

Mary Warren: "I am sick, I am sick, Mr. Proctor. Pray, pray, hurt me not." Act 2
Proctor is angry at Mary Warren because she went to Salem and attended the court proceedings. However, her pleadings throw him off, and this causes him to ease up a bit. The argument was thus avoided while Proctor is instead interested in what she has to say on why she feels ill.
Definition: Urging the opponent to accept the argument based upon an appeal to emotion and sympathy.
Universal Example
-He got into in accident, because it was Friday the 13th.
Example from
The Crucible
Act II:

Giles: "That bloody mongrel Walcott charge her. Y'see, he bought a pig of my wife four or five year ago, and the pig died soon after. So he come dancin' for his money back...Now he goes to court and claims that from that day to this he cannot keep a pig alive for more than four weeks because my Martha bewitch them with her books!"

Obviously Martha's reading did not cause Walcott's pigs to die or Giles' prayers to stop. Correlation does not equal causation.
Examples from
The Crucible
Act 3: Martha Corey & Judge Hathorne
Martha Corey: "I am innocent to a witch. I know not what a witch is."
Hathorne: "How do you know, then, that you are not a witch?"
Hathorne uses circular logic here to make Martha Corey appear guilty. However, having an absence of knowledge about something does not suddenly make a person that thing.
Example from
The Crucible
Act III: Danforth and Abigail
Danforth: "You deny every scrap and tittle of this?"
Abigail: "If I must answer that, I will leave and I will not come back again!"
After Proctor reveals their affair to the court, Abigail doesn't answer Danforth's question. Instead, she "begs the question" by allowing the implied answer of "no" serve as her response without having to provide any
further evidence or even an explicit
"In an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up a witness to prove his innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face, and by its nature, an invisible crime, is it not? Therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The witch and the victim....Now, we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims." Judge Danforth
Judge Danforth denies Proctor a lawyer because in the case of witchcraft, you are guilty until proven innocent--it is a crime without a witness, and only one side can tell the story.

He leaves no room for Hale's alternative that "the girls are not truthful."
Example from Act III

The Crucible

Example from Act III
The Crucible
Danforth [to Francis]: "But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or be must be counted against it, there be no road between."
When Francis and Proctor arrive with a petition of 91 names in defense of Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, and Elizabeth Proctor, all 91 are to be arrested and for "examination." There is no way for defense because if you defend yourself, you must be attacking the court.
Example #1
"The Devil can never overcome a minster. You know that, do you not?" -Hale
Act I
Example #2:

Hale: [Speaking of Parris to Proctor] "The man's ordained, therefore the light of God is in him."
Act II
Example #2
"If she is truly in the devil's grip we may have to rip and tear to get her free."
- Hale
(Act 1)
"Do you not know that God damns all liars."
-Danforth to Mary Warren
(Act 3)
Example #3
This is an appeal to tradition because Danforth is implying that everyone must know that God condemns liars. It's always been like that, so Mary Warren has no reason to believe otherwise, according to Danforth and the town of Salem.
The Straw Man Argument
The straw man fallacy occurs when person B takes
an argument from person A and refutes a related but
more susceptible argument in the place of the original argument.

Universal Example
Bicycle infrastructure should be expanded because cycling is a sustainable mode of transportation.
Straw man argument: We should not build bike lanes because cyclists run red lights and endanger pedestrians.
Appeal To Force

Example 2- Act III
Danforth - "You are either lying now, or you were lying in the court, and in either case, you have committed perjury and you will go to jail for it...It may well be that Mary Warren has been conquered by Satan, who sends her here to distract our sacred purpose. If so, her neck will break for it."
Danforth threatens Mary with jail (and ultimately hanging) if she continues with her deposition against Abigail and the girls.
Example from Act I
Parris [To Tituba]: "You will confess yourself or I will take you out and whip you to your death, Tituba!"
Putnam: "This woman must be hanged! She must be taken and hanged!"
Tituba has no choice but to confess when her life is being threatened!
Ad Populum/Bandwagon
"If many believe so, it is so."

The main problem with this fallacy is the mere fact that many people agree on something often does not prove that what they agree on is true.
From "The Crucible"
Proctor. I have no love for Mr. Parris. It is no secret. But God I surely love.

Cheever. He plow on Sunday, sir.

Danforth. Plow on Sunday!

Cheever. I think it be evidence, John. I am an official of the court, I cannot keep it.

Proctor. I-I have once or twice plowed on Sunday. I have 3 children, sir, and until last year my land give little.

Hale: "I believe him! This girl [Abigail] has always struck me false! She has--"
Abigail: "You will not! (pointing to the rafters) Begone! Begone, I say!"
Example from Act III
Giles: "You know, your father tried a case of mine-- might be 35 year ago, I think."
Danforth: "Indeed."
Giles: "He never spoke to you of it?"
Danforth: "No, I cannot recall it."
Giles: "That's strange, he gave me nine pound damages. He was a fair judge, your father."

(Act III)

Appeal to Pity-- Giles is trying to, perhaps, sway Judge Danforth with a reminder of how his father was a judge who treated Giles fairly.
Post Hoc Fallacy
Faulty Causality
By appealing to people's ability to pity others, a powerful emotive force can be created.
Ad Hominem, a word/phrase which here refers to one attacking an individual instead of the argument.
As Proctor enters the court, Rev. Parris immediately says this to the judge-- a personal attack in order to sway the court and discredit Proctor's defense. Today, an attorney would call "Objection" because Parris's comment is "inflammatory" and intended to cause prejudice.
Example from "The Crucible"
"In the book of record that Mr. Parris keeps, I note that you are rarely in the church on Sabbath Day."
-Hale Act 2
-The quote is an example of poisoning the well because Proctor is accused of rarely going to church which makes him look like a heathen among the pious villagers.
Henry is uneducated, keep that in mind
as you listen to him.
"You're the Devil's man!"
-Mary Warren, Act 3
-Before John Proctor can convince Mary to continue with her confession she claims he compacts with the Devil to save herself.
-By claiming Proctor is in league with the Devil, it is assumed that he is evil.
"Your Excellency, I only said she were readin' books, sir, and they come and take her out of my house for." - Giles Corey, Act 3
-Witches read books, therefore, Martha Corey is in league with the witches.
"All innocent and Christian people are happy for the courts in Salem!" -
Rev. Parris Act 3
The court is Christian and anyone who is Christian should support the church simple because they are Christian.
In Act III, Hale realizes the truth about Abigail and John, and when Elizabeth lies, he says "It is a natural lie to tell." At that moment, Abigail interrupts with her "vision" of a yellow bird in the courtroom. This is a clear random distraction from the court proceedings.
This is an example of poisoning the well because the insult against Henry's lack of a formal education makes everything he says afterward seem ignorant.
In other words, the arguer includes the conclusion to be proven within the premise of the argument.
The conservatives seem to think that anyone who disagrees with President Bush must be a terrorist or a sympathizer for terrorists.

Analysis: Note the keywords 'seem to think that'. What follows it is a misrepresentation of the conservatives' belief.

I'm in favor of legalized gambling. There are those who oppose it, but they apparently believe that anything that's fun is sinful.

Analysis: Note the keywords 'apparently believe'. What follows it is a misrepresentation of the position against legalizing gambling.
Person A: We should liberalize the laws on beer.
Person B: No, any society with unrestricted access to
intoxicants loses its work ethic and goes only for immediate gratification.

Proctor and Cheever are arguing over Proctor’s
credibility and innocence in court. Cheever brings up plowing on Sundays to make the issue larger
involving religion. By bringing up religion, it makes
the issue a bigger deal than it is.

The Premise of the Play!

One person has been accused of witchcraft; therefore, all of his or her acquaintances are likely to also be witches.

Danforth: And you bound yourself to his service (Danforth turns, as Rebecca and Willard enter.) Ah, Rebecca Nurse. – Come in, come in, woman.
Rebecca: Ah, John! You are well, then , eh?
Danforth: Courage, man, courage—let her witness your good example that she may come to God herself. Now hear it, Goody Nurse! Say on, Mister Proctor—did you bind yourself to the Devil’s service?
Rebecca : Why, John!
Proctor: (Face turned from Rebecca.) I did.
Danforth: Now, woman, you surely see it profit nothin’ to keep this conspiracy any further. Will you confess yourself with him?
Rebecca : Oh, John—God send His mercy on you!
Proctor : Take her out!
Danforth: I say will you confess yourself, Goody Nurse!
Rebecca: Why, it is lie, it is a lie; how may I damn myself? I cannot.
Danforth: Mister Proctor. When the Devil came to you did you see Rebecca Nurse in his company? Come, man, take courage—did you ever see her with the Devil?
Proctor : (Almost inaudibly, in agony.) No. (Rebecca takes a step toward him.)
(Act 4)

“Giles: Last night-mark this-
I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she closed her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly-mark this-I could pray again.”
Act 1

Event A happened immediately prior to event B. Therefore, A caused B.
Post Hoc also manifests itself as a bias towards jumping to conclusions
based upon coincidences.

"She sends her spirit on me in church; she
makes me laugh at prayer.” (Act 1)
This is post hoc or faulty causality because there is no evidence that Tituba sending her spirit and Abigail laughing in church are cause and effect. Abigail may laugh in church due to her immaturity.

“Giles: Last night-mark this-
I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she closed her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly-mark this-I could pray again.”
Act 1
In both of these examples early in the play, Hale
reveals his unwavering faith, which sustains his argument. However, as the play
continues, even he realizes he can no longer support the court.
"And do you know that near to 400 are in the jails from Marblehead to Lynn, and upon m signature? And 72 condemned to hang by that signature?" Danforth to Francis, Act III
Danforth feels that the numbers alone should speak for themselves and refuses to believe he has been deceived.
Full transcript