- Circular reasoning: Supporting an argument by restating the argument.
- Bandwagon appeal: Implies that because the majority of people believe that X is true then it must be valid because so many people believe it.
- Ad hominem: An attack on a person’s character and personal traits to weaken his or her argument.
- Red herring: Claims that are misleading to distract from the argument at hand.
- False analogy: A claim that since A is like B, A has the same properties that B has
- Hasty generalization: Coming to a conclusion with the briefest look at the evidence.
In part 2 of Plato’s Meno, Meno and Socrates begin speaking about different topics, especially mathematical ideas that they try out on a boy who is Meno’s servant. the boy shows them that he understands the theories reasonably well, and Socrates comes up with a theory that suggests that the boy is in a “state of knowing”. Socrates thinks that the boy did not learn geometry, he just always knew how to do it:
Now if he always had it, he was always in a state of knowing; and if he acquired it all some
time, he could not have acquired it in this life. Or has someone taught him geometry? You
see, he can do the same as this with all geometry and every branch of knowledge. Now,
can anyone have taught him all this? You ought surely to know, especially as he was born
and bred in your house(p. 27).
This quotation adds to and supports the theory of being in a State of Knowing. A second topic which they speak about was how the boy was positive that his answer was the right one and showed that he was positive even if he did not fully know the answer. Most people who are not quite sure of their answer still do this today. We do our best to answer to the best of our ability, and we answer with confidence and self-assuredness. They also talk about how inquiring after what we do not know will make us better and braver and less helpless(28).
. . . Ask a question and then investigate what the answer is. That’s the core of the scientific method—formulate a question, come up with a hypothesis, make a prediction based on that hypothesis, then test to see if that prediction holds. Not only is that a good way to do research, it is also a great way to present your research to others. Start off with your question! That does a lot of things. It clarifies in the reader’s mind what the purpose of the study is. It helps the reader to relate the study you’ve done to the things that interest them. And it helps you and the reader have a way to see if the study you’ve done has accomplished something. And remember—a study that disproves your hypothesis may be just as interesting and useful as one that confirms it.
Good advice for any essay writer, writing about any subject—including TOK students writing TOK essays!