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Is there any common fallacy that might fit the following 'syllogism'?

  1. X is important, or urgent
  2. Therefore, X

Here's an example of a conversation where this could come up:

  1. It's conceivable that our sales dropped last month (but we won't know until our quarterly statement).
  2. Sales are important!
  3. Therefore, we should sell more units this month!

It's the sort of argument usually followed with "can we really risk the possibility of it being true and not do anything about it?"

So, claim X is uncertain, but a there's a claim that X is important, which somehow trumps the uncertainty and makes X true (even if it might not be). The conclusion is not based on the truth of the premises, which makes me believe this is a fallacy.

What is the name of this fallacy?

  • If it doesn't have a name, I'm calling it "Appeal to panic". :) – MPelletier Oct 29 '11 at 11:03
  • @JosephWeissman While I understand that my example and explanation were not perfect, what improvement is made by retroactively changing the question and fitting it to be better answered by the accepted answer? Aren't the imperfections of my original question likelier to hit on searches than a well-formulated (albeit fallacious) syllogism? – MPelletier Oct 30 '11 at 1:53
  • I think you may have misinterpreted the intent behind the reformulation; I apologize, I should have clarified. The question as formulated was problematic for several reasons, some of which are outlined below -- however, my editing was done in order only to simplify and clarify the question and I was not really thinking about the existing answers. I would certainly suggest improving your question further by telling us more about the context in which this question arose, what you may have read and found out so far, and so on. – Joseph Weissman Oct 30 '11 at 2:12
  • I tried expanding on my example to give more premises. – MPelletier Oct 30 '11 at 2:56
  • Unfortunately that is not exactly what I was looking for here. The example you have provided here does not seem to be very clearly formed. I would certainly encourage you to instead describe "naturally" whatever situation you are asking about (perhaps without attempting to impose a syllogistic form.) I am asking for context in the sense of maybe telling about what you have found out already, why you might think this would be a common or named fallcy, and so on – Joseph Weissman Oct 30 '11 at 3:15
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That could be an Appeal to Consequences, or a more general Appeal to Emotion, depending on the situation.

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    Could possibly be a variant of appeal to force, in addition the ones you have named, depending on context of course – Joseph Weissman Oct 29 '11 at 13:43
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In your particular example, I wonder whether you've symbolized the argument properly. Appeals like that, made in ordinary language, often are not actually fallacious, but they leave a couple of premises unstated. Here is what I suspect may be intended:

  • P is important.
  • No one knows that P and no one knows that ~P.
  • If P is important and no one knows that ~P, we should act as if ~P.
  • Therefore, let's act is if ~P.

Now, obviously, many people might disagree with the 3rd premise, and with good reason. However, I strongly suspect that many people could find a decent argument for using premise 3 as a sort of rough principle for situations involving practical reason. Using your example:

  • I think we've sold fewer units this month.
  • If we don't sell, we'll lose our jobs. We can't take that risk!
  • We can't (or shouldn't) be sure whether or not we've sold fewer units this month.
  • We should act as if we've sold fewer units this month.

Obviously, this may not be the sort of argument intended by the example you gave, but I wanted to mention the possibility. Often, principles of practical reason are presented in a way such that a few of the premises are left unstated, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the speaker meant to assert that the argument would follow logically without the unstated premises.

  • 1
    +1 Very important point about the implicit premises and logical steps. – Cerberus Oct 29 '11 at 15:49
  • Yeah, I felt I skipped something... – MPelletier Oct 29 '11 at 16:38

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