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A fallacy, also known as paralogia in modern psychology, is the use of invalid or otherwise faulty reasoning in the construction of an argument that may appear to be well-reasoned if unnoticed. The term was introduced in the Western intellectual tradition by the Aristotelian De Sophisticis Elenchis.
Fallacies may be committed intentionally to manipulate or persuade by deception, unintentionally because of human limitations such as carelessness, cognitive or social biases and ignorance, or potentially due to the limitations of language and understanding of language. These delineations include not only the ignorance of the right reasoning standard but also the ignorance of relevant properties of the context. For instance, the soundness of legal arguments depends on the context in which they are made.
Fallacies are commonly divided into "formal" and "informal." A formal fallacy is a flaw in the structure of a deductive argument that renders the argument invalid, while an informal fallacy originates in an error in reasoning other than an improper logical form. Arguments containing informal fallacies may be formally valid, but still fallacious.
A special case is a mathematical fallacy, an intentionally invalid mathematical proof with a concealed, or subtle, error. Mathematical fallacies are typically crafted and exhibited for educational purposes, usually taking the form of false proofs of obvious contradictions.
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