Civilizing the Economy A New Economics of Provision


Posted Jul 26, 2012 by Marvin Brown in Uncategorized, 1 Comment

Fallacies are older than Aristotle, and maybe twice as good.  In any case, they can help to keep up on our toes.  Here are a few modern ones:

The Intentional Fallacy  The meaning of an act is determined only by intention without considering its impact.

Whatever Happens was supposed to Happen Fallacy  Events are partly a result of human actions and humans make mistakes.

The Single Act Fallacy  A denial of other things that also change or are impacted by an action. “You can never do only one thing”

The Conscious Fallacy  Nothing is happening if I am not aware of it.  “I am not aware of having privileges, so I must not have any.”

 The Disconnect Fallacy  A disregard for the multiple dimensions of human interaction.  Assumes that the only source of individual action is the individual, disconnected from her or his environment.

 The Naturalistic Fallacy The false assumption that what “is” can tell us what “should” be.

 The Buzz Fallacy  If I get a buzz from it, it must be good. Buzzs are as blind as Heidegger’s Dasein.

The One Best Way Fallacy   Assumes there is only one way to achieve an end, there may be several.

 The Means As Ends Fallacy  Confusing means and ends, assumes that if one attains the means, one therefore attains the ends.  “Do we live to eat or eat to live?”

 The Necessary As Sufficient Fallacy  Money is necessary for a good life in modern societies, but not sufficient.

The Sufficient as Necessary fallacy  If meditation works for me, everyone should do it.

 The Throw Away Fallacy  Assumes that somewhere is nowhere.

The Commodity Fallacy  Treats things as commodities when they are not.  One of the primary fallacies of capitalism.

 The Single Motive Fallacy   Requires that persons or organizations act from only one motive, both usually act from multiple motives.

The Fallacy Of Absolute Oppositions  Sets terms apart instead of seeing than as part of a larger whole.  Competition – cooperation are not so much oppositions as parts of a larger whole where cooperation is the context for competition.

The Sunny Side Up Fallacy  Only considers gains and ignores costs, especially opportunity costs.  “If our millions can save one life then it will be worth it.”  (What about the many lives the money could have improved if used elsewhere?)

The Fallacy Of Speaking Facts  Facts do not speak for themselves.  They always speak from some interpreter’s perspective

 Fallacy Of Measurements As Accomplishments  Takes the measurements of performance as the performance itself. Profit may be a measurement of business success, but it is itself success.

The History is Dead Fallacy Assumes that we can ignore how we got where we are and pretends where we are will not influence where we can go.

The Fallacy of Fallacies:  Assumes that calling some idea a fallacy will take the wind out of its sails.


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Marvin T. Brown, Ph.D teaches business and organizational ethics at the University of San Francisco and Saybrook University in San Francisco.

This book is the culmination of 30 years of teaching and writing on business and society from a communicative perspective. Visit for more information.

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