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Welcome! This is the place to ask the community of experts and other fallacyophites (I made up that word) if someone has a committed a fallacy or not. This is a great way to settle a dispute! This is also the home of the "Mastering Logical Fallacies" student support.


Dr. Bo's Criteria for Logical Fallacies:

  1. It must be an error in reasoning not a factual error.
  2. It must be commonly applied to an argument either in the form of the argument or in the interpretation of the argument.
  3. It must be deceptive in that it often fools the average adult.

Therefore, we will define a logical fallacy as a concept within argumentation that commonly leads to an error in reasoning due to the deceptive nature of its presentation. Logical fallacies can comprise fallacious arguments that contain one or more non-factual errors in their form or deceptive arguments that often lead to fallacious reasoning in their evaluation.

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Jacob

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Jacob


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Sun, Sep 30, 2018 - 12:15 AM

The historians fallacy and moral relativism.

I am going to put the Historians Fallacy from this website in here as reference

Description: Judging a person's decision in the light of new information not available at the time.

Logical Form:
Claim X was made in the past.
Those who made the claim did not take into consideration Y, which was not available to them at the time.
Therefore, this was a foolish claim.

Me Again...

I often get into conversations about historical figures, and practically all historical figures did things which were common in their time but are now considered extremely immoral. When I say that X was a common practice in the past I usually get an angry reply. X HAS ALWAYS BEEN WRONG!

Take this for example. It used to be a common practice to smoke with a baby in the car. Imagine this scenario. A man is running for president who is old enough to have lived during this time when smoking in a car with a baby was considered normal behavior. Then he is judged as a terrible father in the present for this. Is this the historians fallacy?



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Michael Chase Walker
Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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Michael Chase Walker

Screenwriter, producer, mythoclast

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About Michael Chase Walker

Michael Chase Walker is an actor, author, screenwriter, producer, and a former adjunct lecturer for the College of Santa Fe Moving Images Department, and Dreamworks Animation. His first motion picture was the animated classic, The Last Unicorn.
Michael was an in-house television writer for the hit television series: He-Man, She-Ra, Voltron, and V, the Series. In 1985, he was appointed Director of Children's programs for CBS Entertainment where he conceived, shaped and supervised the entire 1985 Saturday Morning line-up: Wildfire, Pee Wee's Playhouse, Galaxy High School, Teen Wolf, and over 10
Print Fri, Oct 05, 2018 - 11:59 AM
As the good doctor explained this has less to with logic and more to do with cultural mores. If it was a fallacy of logic it might be better described as Chronological snobbery: A fallacy of distraction that accepts or rejects ideas solely based on its age.


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Bo Bennett, PhD
Author of Logically Fallacious

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Author of Logically Fallacious

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About Bo Bennett, PhD

Bo's personal motto is "Expose an irrational belief, keep a person rational for a day. Expose irrational thinking, keep a person rational for a lifetime."  Much of his charitable work is in the area of education—not teaching people what to think, but how to think.  His projects include his book, The Concept: A Critical and Honest Look at God and Religion, and Logically Fallacious, the most comprehensive collection of logical fallacies.  Bo's personal blog is called Relationship With Reason, where he writes about several topics related to critical thinking.  His secular (humanistic) philosophy is detailed at PositiveHumanism.com.
Bo is currently the producer and host of The Humanist Hour, the official broadcast of the American Humanist Association, where he can be heard weekly discussing a variety of humanistic issued, mostly related to science, psychology, philosophy, and critical thinking.

Full bio can be found at http://www.bobennett.com
Print Sun, Sep 30, 2018 - 08:59 AM
This might be more of a question of morality than logic or fallacies. Let's take your smoking example. A long time ago, when this was common, people simply did not know the harm they were causing their children, yet harm was being caused. So how are we defining "bad parent?" Based on the outcome (the health of the child) or the intent (the parent's efforts)? We can say that it was objectively bad for the child, but we can't say with the same confidence that the parents were objectively bad.

What about slavery? It is difficult to imagine that people in the past did not feel guilt or know that there was something morally wrong with enslaving humans. I say this because human empathy does not change with culture—it is a biological constant. Culture and norms can desensitize our empathy, but only to a point. I see a parallel today with our treatment of animals (mostly eating them and perhaps experimenting on them). I eat chicken and fish, yet I believe it is morally wrong to do so. I am confident that when lab grown meat takes over, eating animals will be seen in a similar light to slavery. So can someone judge me in 2050 as a terrible person for eating meat in 2018? They can, but because they have access to abundant, cheap, and delicious lab grown meat, they cannot accurately empathize with my situation which would reflect on their judgement of me. Here is the important conclusion: If I am lucky enough to be around in 2050, my eating meat in 2018 should NOT be judged the same as if I were to eat meat in 2050. The basis of the historian's fallacy is that it is fallacious to attempt to understand someone choices (moral or otherwise) without considering the information they had or did not have at the time.
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Jacob
Monday, October 01, 2018 - 02:14:42 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:

When I was writing this post slavery was what I really wanted to use as an example but I was worried it would be too racy. It is dangerous to suggest that there was a time in history when a "good" person owned slaves. I obviously believe that slavery is wrong but it took a long time to get to now. It took a long time for civilization to progress far enough to realize that slavery was wrong. I read the whole wiki on Thomas Jefferson. The wiki called him a benevolent slave owner because he treated his slaves better than was usual at the time. I have talked to other people who say that this is no excuse. They say that no matter how well he treated his slaves he was still a bad person, because he is bad by todays standards, which is the historians fallacy.

I discussed this with my brother ad nauseam. I asked him a lot of hypothetical questions. "If Thomas Jefferson were immortal and alive today should he be put on trial for slavery even if he set his slaves free in 1865? Would it be right to use a time machine to abduct slave owners from the past and put them in prison in the future for their crimes. Should people be punished 50 years in the future for eating meat now?" We talked about your example of meat, that in the future it is likely to be phased out.

I also considered using age of consent as an example. In the wiki on age of consent it says that for most of human history the age of consent was around puberty. Its only in the last 50 years that it has risen to 14, 15, 16, 18, even up to 21 in a few places. It is a good thing that progress is marked by an older age of consent. People are living longer and they have better lives when they wait until older to have sex, but this does not mean that people who married girls at puberty were "bad" people 500 years ago. Their character should be judged by the standard of their time and place and not through the lens of today. Most of the people I tell this too are disturbed by this idea. Most people would rather believe that all men who married 12 year old girls in the past were monsters, but that is just how it was back then. The definition of "good" changes from age to age. I am an ethical person in this age but in 100 years many of the things I do will be considered immoral. I hope future people will know about the historians fallacy and judge me by the standards of my time.

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