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Is there a field or term which can be used to describe conjecture on the notion that:

The validity of an idea is related to the length of time it has been debated.

Such a field would concern (or, term would describe), the validity of statements such as:

People have thought about this for a long time and no-one has solved it, so it must be un-knowable.

The idea has been accepted for a long time, so I find it hard to believe it is flawed.


I have also asked a related question:

Is there an accepted term for the idea that: “an idea's validity is increase by the number of proponents".

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    Welcome! This and your other very similar question may be just a little bit too basic for this space, at least as currently formulated. Please note the community had previously decided not to allow the simplest fallacy questions ("what is argumentum ad...?") as being a bit too basic also; these strike me as inverses of those, all things being equal. (Like the "what is fallacy x?", these would seem able to be answered with a trivial search.) – Joseph Weissman Jan 17 '12 at 17:48
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    I disagree. Inverse questions are much harder and harder to search for. So it is not automatic that these questions are disallowed just because the forward direction is disallowed. – Phira Jan 18 '12 at 9:58
  • @Phira Nobody said it was automatically disallowed. I am only expressing a concern that these may be just a bit too simple or "general" to really be appropriate here. – Joseph Weissman Jan 18 '12 at 14:55
  • @JosephWeissman I was criticizing that you use the fact that the questions are inverses of easy questions as argument. – Phira Jan 18 '12 at 15:17
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    @Phira the key problem is that they seem too simple to me (answerable with a trivial search or a glance through a standard list of fallacies); in addition, they are also very similar to a question-type that this community has already decided is problematic. I do apologize for conflating the two, but I do think they are valid concerns. At any rate let's table this discussion here for the time being to avoid extended comment-based discussion; please feel free to bring this up on meta or in chat if you'd like to continue talking through this. – Joseph Weissman Jan 18 '12 at 17:07
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You have several separate ideas here.

People have thought about this for a long time and no-one has solved it, so it must be un-knowable.

This is an Argument from Ignorance.

The idea has been accepted for a long time, so I find it hard to believe it is flawed.

This is an Appeal to Tradition.

The validity of an idea is related to the length of time it has been debated.

This is not exactly, but appears to be a variant of, the Argument Ad Nauseam.

If things like this interest you, there are many books on logic and argumentation that explore these and other fallacies and rhetorical devices in some depth.

  • Although the questioner did accept your answer, it is not evident that he asked about the erroneus aspect (fallacy) of this "idea", as he puts it. Maybe he was actually looking for arguments supporting the validity of such a claim? (Fallacies are context-sensitive, in some context they might not be fallacies at all, e.g. think of the role of authority-based arguments in law.) @DaveTapley Can you explain yourself on this point? – DBK Mar 10 '12 at 16:20
  • @DBK when I asked the question I was looking for terms I could use to identify fallacies, however I find your comment interesting because I had not considered that such argumentation could be valid in certain contexts. Perhaps an appeal for contexts where an Argument Ad Nauseam is valid (at least, to some extent), could make a good new question (I feel that it is appropriate for philosophy.so ?). – dukedave Mar 12 '12 at 18:33

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