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Straw Person

This fallacy occurs when, in attempting to refute another person's argument, you address only a weak or distorted version of it. Straw person is the misrepresentation of an opponent's position or a competitor's product to tout one's own argument or product as superior. This fallacy occurs when the weakest version of an argument is attacked while stronger ones are ignored.

Examples:

  1. Lloyd: Can you allow time for more class discussion? Prof. Schwartz: I don't want to give the entire class period over to some aimless bull session.
  2. Pro-choice is absurd. How could anyone support killing an innocent human being?
  3. Egalitarianism is wrong because it is the same as communism.
  4. It's appalling to me that the people who oppose the death penalty believe the lives of convicted murderers are more important than the lives of their victims. This alone shows that the opponents of capital punishment are wrong.
  5. Senator Jackson is anti-woman. After all, he voted against anti-pornography legislation, so he is in favor of the sexual and violent exploitation of women.
  6. Smith: We must have equal consideration for same sex couples as we do for heterosexual couples. It is unconstitutional to deny rights to these Americans. Jones: If you want men to be able to wear wedding dresses that's fine, but I don't want my tax dollars going to some ridiculous liberal idea.
  7. Debra: There is no logical or moral justification for the killing of animals for food. Animals are sentient creatures that deserve the same consideration as humans. Joe: Look, if you want to eat grass like a cow, Bon Appetit! Just let me have my hamburger.
  8. Immanuel: When people are happy, they are more inclined to obey the moral law. Knowing this, we can see that we all have an indirect moral obligation to be happy. John: Sure, sure. Let's encourage people to pursue happiness at any price, is that it? But what you don't seem to understand is that one person's unrestrained pursuit of personal happiness can wreak havoc on the personal happiness of others.
  9. Inez: The double standard has been as hard on men as it has been on women, since it tends to define masculinity in a very narrow way, and this has restricted men's freedom to explore the full range of their possibilities. Jean: What are you saying, Inez? Do you think women have had all the freedom in the world in this regard? On the contrary, socially sanctioned female roles have been like a straightjacket to women.