Argument from authority

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Argument from authority or appeal to authority is a form of argument or reasoning that argues if a person with authority in a field makes a statement about it, it is probably true. It 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 is good in some conditions. For example, a person says, "I need to take my medication because my doctor told me to."[3] Doctors are trained, know much about medication, and probably have experience giving medication before. The person is appealing to a real authority with supported data that makes the authority probably right.

The argument is bad when there is a false authority or unclear authority. For example, "I know X is true because it said so on the internet."[3] The complete internet has no authority because any person on the internet can say anything they want. A part of the internet may have authority, but it is unclear because the argument was not specific.

References[change | change source]

  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. 3.0 3.1 Fallacies, Patrik Edblad in Logical (2018-11-30). "The Appeal to Authority Fallacy: How To Avoid Getting Fooled By Expert Opinion". Patrik Edblad. Archived from the original on 2020-06-20. Retrieved 2020-06-19.