Argument from authority

a form of defeasible argument in which a claimed authority's support is used as evidence for an argument's conclusion

Argument from authority or appeal to authority is a form of argument or reasoning that could become a fallacy if it is misused.[1]

In informal reasoning,[2] the appeal to authority is an argument of the form:

A is an authority on a particular topic
A says something about that topic
A is probably correct

The argument may be right in many cases, but it might be wrong in other cases. In cases where the argument is wrong, it would be a fallacy. Therefore, the appeal to authority is not a generally strong argument for proving facts.[3]

An example of a poor appeal to authority is if someone says that "God doesn't exist. I know because Stephen Hawking said so."[4] This is a poor example because even though almost everyone who knows about Stephen Hawking would agree that he was very intelligent man, his knowledge about physics (which he was a professor of) is not important to knowing about whether or not God exists.

An example of a good appeal to authority is if a someone says “I need to take my medicine. I know so because my doctor prescribed it,”[5] This is believable because most doctors have a lot of knowledge and training in how to improve people's health, and it is very likely that the doctor has given similar prescriptions many times before.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Logical Fallacies". Stanford.edu. Fall 2008. Retrieved 2014-01-25.
  2. Salmon, M.H. (2006). Introduction to critical reasoning. Mason, OH: Thomson Wadsworth. pp. 118–9.
  3. Walton, Douglas 2008. Informal logic. London: Cambridge University Press, p84. ISBN 0-521-71380-3
  4. Fallacies, Patrik Edblad in Logical (2018-11-30). "The Appeal to Authority Fallacy: How To Avoid Getting Fooled By Expert Opinion". Patrik Edblad. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  5. Fallacies, Patrik Edblad in Logical (2018-11-30). "The Appeal to Authority Fallacy: How To Avoid Getting Fooled By Expert Opinion". Patrik Edblad. Retrieved 2020-06-19.