The science of philosophy is commonly associated with complex theories and concepts that have little to do with the real life. In the meantime, understanding of basic philosophic laws enables people to develop a clear vision of the outside world and the key mechanisms of its functioning. In this paper, I would like to focus on such philosophic concept as a fallacy or false reasoning to show how mass media employs this logic trick to impose certain ideas on the target audience. To be substantive, I will perform a detailed analysis of a recent newspaper article that makes a skillful use of fallacious reasoning to translate the positive image of the vegan lifestyle on its readers.
On the face of it, the author is aimed at elucidating some true to life facts related to vegan philosophy. The article tells about the essentials of the vegan diet and the key motives to adopt this lifestyle. In the meantime, a critical reader is likely to notice that it contains a series of fallacious arguments that are intended for creating a distorted image of the vegan concept and persuading the audience in its advantage over other lifestyles. In order to discover this concealed message, let us analyze the main arguments the article offers. Thus, the interviewed actor explains that he decided to adopt the vegan lifestyle because he wanted to help animals. Putting it more precisely, he says “I decided to commit to a vegan lifestyle because ever since I can remember I’ve had this insane connection to animals. I’ve always had such a passion for helping them” (Tachdjian par. 3). As such, we can notice that the speaker draws distinct parallels between a vegan lifestyle and helping animals. Therefore the conclusion that the article advances might be summarized as follows – vegans help animals. This conclusion naturally creates a positive image of the discussed lifestyle and makes the readers consider performing a shift to a more eco-friendly conduct. Meanwhile, before making any decisions, it is fairly useful to test the validity of this conclusion.
First and foremost, it is necessary to understand how the thesis that the article tries to impose was formed. Otherwise stated, we need to analyze whether the conclusion that the vegan lifestyle is associated with helping animals is logically relevant. From the objective standpoint, there are two main points that the audience learns from the article. First, vegans do not eat meat. Putting it in crude terms, they do not eat animals. Second, some vegans tend to adopt this lifestyle because they want or like to help animals. I say “some” vegans because the article elucidates the vision of only one vegan, and, thus, his opinion cannot be applied to all the followers of this philosophy. The two statements are true, though they do not allow us to arrive at the target conclusion that vegans help animals. In the frame of philosophy science, this phenomenon is called a counterexample. Otherwise stated, both premises that the author offers are true (vegans really do not eat meat and some of them really want to help animals), though the suggested conclusion is false since there is no premise that would explain how vegans help animals. As such, this fallacious conclusion might be illustrated by the following transcript:
A = B
A = C,
Therefore, B = C
Let us assume, that in this formula, “A” stands for vegans or the vegan lifestyle; “B” stands for refusing animal meat, and “C” stands for helping animals. In order to arrive at the conclusion that the article advances and prove the relevance of the thesis that vegans help animals, we should have a slightly different formula that can be represented as follows:
A = B
A = C
B = C,
Therefore, A = C
As we might see, the author of the article has omitted an important step to ensure the relevance of the thesis i.e. she did not provide the justification of the “B = C” formula. In other words, the article fails to explain how refusing animal meat is aligned with helping animals. Some people might say that this relation does not need to be explained, and those who do not eat meat save the lives of the animals. But we have no empirical evidence of this assumption. As such, we do not possess any statistics that would show the decline in the animal meat production; neither do we have any evidence of animals’ practical benefiting from the existence of vegans. The audience has simply got used to the idea that those who do not eat meat help animals, and the positive image of vegans naturally strengthens. In the frame of philosophy science, this phenomenon is called the fallacy of equivocation. Thus, the term “help” is used in a misleading meaning which none of the readers can actually explain. Thanks to the mass media efforts, people start associating the vegan philosophy with animal help, and this idea gradually develops acquiring new positive implications.
It would be unfair to claim that the author of the article used this logic trick intentionally. Meanwhile, since we are acquainted with the mechanism of fallacious reasoning, we have grounds to suggest that mass media can use this instrument to impose the target ideas on the audience and distort the image of any phenomenon with the help of equivocations. One of the ways to avoid being confounded is to apply the laws of philosophy to challenging the theses proposed by modern magazines and newspapers.