Ignoratio elenchi

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Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion[1] or irrelevant thesis) is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but does not address the issue in question. "Ignoratio elenchi" can be roughly translated by ignorance of refutation, that is, ignorance of what a refutation is; "elenchi" is from the Greek έλεγχος, meaning an argument of disproof or refutation.[2] (Some sources give by ignorance of the issues or even by ignoring the issues as a translation of ignoratio elenchi.)

Aristotle believed that an ignoratio elenchi is a mistake made by a questioner while attempting to refute a respondent's argument. He called it an ignorance of what makes for a refutation. For Aristotle, then, ignoratio elenchi amounts to ignorance of logic. In fact, Aristotle goes so far as to say that all logical fallacies can be reduced to what he calls ignoratio elenchi.

Modern use limits this term much more narrowly to the kind of mistake described in the first paragraph above.


[edit] Red herring

Similar to ignoratio elenchi, a red herring is an argument, given in reply, that does not address the original issue. Critically, a red herring is a deliberate attempt to change the subject or divert the argument. This is known formally in the English vocabulary as a digression which is usually denoted as "red herring".

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Bishop Whately, cited by John Stuart Mill: A System of Logic. London Colchester 1959 (first: 1843), pp. 542
  2. ^ Introduction to Logic: Ignoratio Elenchi

[edit] External links

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