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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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Gary

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Gary


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fallacy
slippery slope
Mon, Mar 25, 2019 - 12:59 AM

Is this a form of the slippery slope fallacy?

I encountered this counterargument to "if you don't like it. don't watch it" and I believe the user had made use of the "slippery slope" fallacy in his argument. Here's how it goes:

He believes entertainment which contains hate speech must be banned because it normalizes hate speech and makes it acceptable. In response to the argument "if you don't like it, don't watch it" he says that if we allow it in our entertainment, why not in the media or in other places? If you allow hate speech to be directed at Christians, why not allow it on Muslims?

Please let me know if you think his argument was guilty of such a fallacy or not. If you think it was another fallacy, I would also be glad to know which one it was. Thanks!



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William Harpine, Ph.D.

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William Harpine, Ph.D.


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Print Mon, Mar 25, 2019 - 09:23 AM
I can see why it looks like a slippery slope. However, a fallacious slippery slope involves a series of steps, each quite possible or probable. The issue is that we can stop the slide down the slope at any point, although it is hard to predict the exact point at which the slide will stop. That's why a slippery slope argument can be convincing: each step is reasonable, but the entire slide down the slope is unlikely.

Your case involves only one step, and thus it isn't long enough for me to call it a slope.

That doesn't mean that the person's question is valid or invalid. You'd need to study the issues to figure that out, and that isn't a job for informal logic.

Freedom of speech issues are tricky, aren't they?


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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 Mon, Mar 25, 2019 - 06:44 AM
Review the slippery slope fallacy at https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/162/Slippery-Slope. I would say that your example does not qualify for a fallacious slippery slope. If it is a slippery slope (there is just one "level" to the slope so not much of a slope).

These are not clear arguments either. Fallacies are generally applied to arguments, and arguments use reasons to support a conclusion. However, many claims are implied arguments, but the key point is to see if one committing an error in reasoning, even if not technically a named fallacy.

There are actually two "questions" here:

if we allow it in our entertainment, why not in the media or in other places?

At this point, I would want to know if the person is asking why shouldn't it be allowed in other places, or claiming that it is likely to show up in other places. If the former, it is a reasonable question that would make for a good discussion. If the latter, the person is saying:

If we allow hate speech in our entertainment, then it is likely to show up in the media and other places.

My question would then be, what evidence does the person have to support this claim? They could be Jumping To Conclusions here (see https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/114/Jumping-to-Conclusions), but we don't know because no reasons were given.

Next,

If you allow hate speech to be directed at Christians, why not allow it on Muslims?

Unless I missed part of your argument, I see this as Begging the Question or a possible Strawman. Who said anything about hate speech directed at Christians? Your initial comment was simply "if you don't like it, don't watch it." But let's assume that you are okay with the term "hate speech" (i.e., you agree that you are both talking about the same thing labeled "hate speech") and let's assume that this hate speech is directed towards Christians. Then I think this question is legitimate and worthy of discussion.

Again, no clear arguments are being made and not enough information is given to even infer a clear argument, so I would just take these as questions for discussion (good questions, in my opinion).
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