An association fallacy
is an inductive
Inductive reasoning, also known as induction or inductive logic, is a kind of reasoning that constructs or evaluates propositions that are abstractions of observations. It is commonly construed as a form of reasoning that makes generalizations based on individual instances...
An informal fallacy is an argument whose stated premises fail to support their proposed conclusion. The deviation in an informal fallacy often stems from a flaw in the path of reasoning that links the premises to the conclusion...
of the type hasty generalization
Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence essentially making a hasty conclusion without considering all of the variables...
or red herring which asserts that qualities of one thing are inherently qualities of another, merely by an irrelevant association. The two types are sometimes referred to as guilt by association
and honor by association
. Association fallacies are a special case of red herring, and can be based on an appeal to emotion
Appeal to emotion is a potential fallacy which uses the manipulation of the recipient's emotions, rather than valid logic, to win an argument. The appeal to emotion fallacy uses emotions as the basis of an argument's position without factual evidence that logically supports the major ideas endorsed...
In notation of first-order logic
First-order logic is a formal logical system used in mathematics, philosophy, linguistics, and computer science. It goes by many names, including: first-order predicate calculus, the lower predicate calculus, quantification theory, and predicate logic...
, this type of fallacy can be expressed as (∃x ∈ S : φ(x)) → (∀x ∈ S : φ(x)), meaning "if there exists any x in the set S so that a property φ is true for x, then for all
x in S the property φ must be true."
- Premise A is a B
- Premise A is also a C
- Conclusion Therefore, all Bs are Cs
The fallacy in the argument can be illustrated through the use of an Euler Diagram
An Euler diagram is a diagrammatic means of representing sets and their relationships. The first use of "Eulerian circles" is commonly attributed to Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler . They are closely related to Venn diagrams....
: "A" satisfies the requirement that it is part of both sets "B" and "C", but if one represents this as an Euler diagram, it can clearly be seen that it is possible that a part of set "B" is not part of set "C", refuting the conclusion that "all Bs are Cs".
A syllogism is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition is inferred from two or more others of a certain form...
examples of guilt by association:
- John is a con artist. John has black hair. Therefore, all people with black hair are con artists.
- Jane is good at math. Jane is dyslexic. Therefore, all dyslexic people are good at math.
- Simon, Karl, Jared, and Brett are all friends of Josh, and they are all petty criminals. Jill is a friend of Josh; therefore, Jill is a petty criminal.
- All dogs have four legs; my cat has four legs. Therefore, my cat is a dog. (This argument is made by the wordplay-prone Sir Humphrey Appleby in the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...
A situation comedy, often shortened to sitcom, is a genre of comedy that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue...
Yes, Prime Minister).
Guilt by association as an ad hominem fallacy
Guilt by association can sometimes also be a type of ad hominem fallacy, if the argument
In philosophy and logic, an argument is an attempt to persuade someone of something, or give evidence or reasons for accepting a particular conclusion.Argument may also refer to:-Mathematics and computer science:...
attacks a person because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument.
This form of the argument is as follows:
- A makes a claim of P's status.
- B also makes a claim of P's status.
- Therefore, P is guilty by association.
- "My opponent for office just received an endorsement from the Puppy Haters Association. Is that the sort of person you would want to vote for?"
- "Zenith is a better detergent than Acme. Do you know who used Acme detergent? Charles Manson
Charles Milles Manson is an American criminal who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the Tate/LaBianca murders carried out by members of the group at his instruction...
Honor by association
The logical inverse of "guilt by association" is honor by association
, where one claims that someone or something must be reputable because of the people or organizations that are related to it or otherwise support it. For example:
- Citizens of Country X won more Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...
s, gold medals, and literary awards than citizens of Country Y. Therefore, a citizen of Country X is superior to a citizen of Country Y.
- In many advertisements, businesses heavily use the principle of honor by association. For example, an attractive woman will say that a specific product is good. Her attractiveness gives the product good associations.
- Fallacies: Classical and Contemporary Readings, edited by Hans V. Hansen and Robert C. Pinto (1995).
- Bibliography on Fallacies: http://www.ditext.com/eemeren/bib.html