ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Logical Fallacies in Public Discourse and Law

Using the framework of informal logical fallacies, this article looks at the link between prejudices and certain contemporary social debates involving women and gender, and analyses how the law accommodates these prejudices.

We are all susceptible to prejudices as we are to diseases. We can only hope for better resistance, not perfect immunity, from either of these influences on our lives. A part of such resistance emanates from our recognition of the power of prejudice, which I define as preconceived notions of credibility, merit, character or culpability of another. This article looks at the link between prejudices and certain contemporary social debates involving women and gender, and analyses to what extent the law accommodates these prejudices.

The analytical framework I use is that of informal logical fallacies. Informal fallacies, as distinguished from formal fallacies, are so because of their content as well as form. In the author’s view, most informal fallacies that are recurrent in our discourse on women and gender are products of those prejudices that have a chance of shaping a person’s thought process. They begin to operate even before her training in thinking in terms of academic training or her professional and social exposure steps in. There may be disagreements with this simplistic take on the origin of informal fallacies.

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