Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Broken Window Fallacy

Fallacies, according to Keith and Lundberg, are mistakes and errors in argumentation and reasoning.  Arguments with fallacies either will have conclusions that are not implied by the evidence or the reasoning of the argument does not support its claim.  This results in the argument becoming invalid and often times will create a loss of credibility, damaging the argument’s ethos.

The broken window fallacy was first expressed by a French economist to explain that destruction, such as war, is not beneficial to the economy.  He gives the example of a man’s son breaking a glass window, meaning that the man will then have to pay to replace it.  People then argue that the boy has done the community a service because the man will have to pay a repair man to replace the window.  The repair man will then spend that money, therefore contributing to the local economy.  But the economist points out that by breaking the window the man’s income has been reduced resulting in the man not being able to purchase goods.  While the broken window may help the repair man it reduces the amount being spent on other goods, as well as it being a maintenance cost and not a purchase of goods which would be economically beneficial but instead a maintenance cost doesn’t stimulate production.  This fallacy is then applied towards the idea that going to war stimulates the country’s economy by showing that war causes resources to be focused on goods to destroy things and not going towards industries to help the economy.  This being because the rebuilding after war is mostly that of maintenance costs.

The book talks about no arguments being perfect or airtight but many contain obvious and identifiable errors in reasoning, it continues on saying that part of rhetorical skill involves being able to identify these arguments.  According to lecture, an argument is a combination of a claim and evidence.  An argument is able to be discredited when there is a flaw in a type of reasoning which is a fallacy.  In the broken window fallacy example, it shows that the flaw in the reasoning behind war being economically beneficial is that of looking at the parties directly involved for the short period of time, and not seeing those indirectly related such as a local business that the man would have spent money at if not having to had pay the repair man.  This fallacy discredits the argument, damaging the argument’s ethos.  According to lecture, it is argued that ethos is the most important in an argument, therefore when fallacies discredit these arguments they are causing a lot of harm to its reasoning and the point that is trying to be relayed. 


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