Or is it still a NTS fallacy if, instead of the original assertion being modified, it already contains provisions for rejecting falsifications as incorrectly run experiments?

If "true Scotsman" is in the assertion from the beginning, rather than added in response to a counterexample?

[edit: example given as demanded]

Situation 1:
Person 1: "No Cristian would rape a woman"
Person 2: Well, the news last evening...
Person 1: "He's not a true Christian"

Situation 2:
Person 1: "No true Cristian would rape a woman"

The question: If Situation 1 is a case of NTS, is Situation 2, also?

Without delving into definitions and unknowable thoughts of Person 1, the consensus here is be "no". Thank you.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Keelan, Alexander S King, Swami Vishwananda, jobermark, John Am Nov 7 '15 at 19:58

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    It's really hard to tell what you're asking. Why don't you just give us the case you are worried about? that will be easier for people to help with. – shane Nov 2 '15 at 13:31
  • Is the [argumentation] tag appropriate for this question? i.e. is it about actual arguments where this might come up, or is this an in principle kind of question? – Dave Nov 2 '15 at 13:41
  • @shane No specific case. Any situation where a person utters "No Adjective Noun is X" while deliberately already thinking of the Adjective as meaning "the kind that isn't X" (obvious circular reasoning, now that I put it that way - so NTS is all in the modification) – kaay Nov 3 '15 at 14:02
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    yeah that seems obviously circular. Note that the following is a perfectly valid argument: (1) Every X is Y. (2) Z is not Y. (3) Therefore, Z is not X. "Every Scotsman loves porridge; Angus hates porridge; therefore Angus is not a Scotsman." The "No True Scotsman" fallacy is supposed to be committed when there's a kind of shifting, loose definition of the class of things that are X. It's an ad hoc way of trying to preserve some universal generalization against clear counterexamples. – shane Nov 3 '15 at 14:06
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    The point of the no true scottsman fallacy is that you can't say that X would never do Y when X and Y are unrelated. If you qualify X to be more specific but in a way that's still unrelated, then your argument has not improved. If you say "X would never do something that by definition makes that one not-X," then you're just stating a tautology. I don't really see what the issue is behind the question. – James Kingsbery Nov 12 '15 at 16:46

By the usual definition the assertion has to be modified ad hoc. One can imagine "pre-emptive" No True Scotsman with the original premise already designed to reject any objection to its conclusion. That however would be a case of circular reasoning/begging the question. Anselm's ontological argument can be read as such a case: God that does not exist in reality is no true God. The trick is to put existence in reality into the definition of God under the guise of perfection.

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    I don't see how any fair reader could interpret Anselm's argument as a "no true scotsman" move. Maybe importing back some contemporary understandings of God we could get there, but given his understanding that makes no sense. – virmaior Nov 2 '15 at 22:41
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    @virmaior Isn't "no fair reader" just No True Scotsman by another name? And it can be read that way because it was, here's Schopenhauer:"On some occasion or other someone excogitates a conception, composed out of all sorts of predicates, among which, however, he takes care to include the predicate actuality or existence, either openly or wrapped up for decency's sake in some other predicate, such as perfection, immensity, or something of the kind". – Conifold Nov 2 '15 at 23:42
  • I'd rather say there's deep equivocation between what Schopenhaeur speaks us with reference to "a conception composed of all sorts of predicates" and what Anselm means by God. The inclusion of existence in the idea of God is problematic, but it's problematic precisely because we reject the essentialism inherent in Anselm's entire understanding of how reality works -- it's not an ad hoc hypothesis for him that the essence of pure being would exist. Rereading him in that way and claiming he's no "true scotsmanning" seems patently unfair. – virmaior Nov 3 '15 at 5:01
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    The debate about Anselm's argument aside, this answer is concise, and this is, indeed, a case of begging the question. "True" Scotsmen are Scotsmen for whom the claim is true. – kaay Nov 3 '15 at 7:55
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    @kaay question-begging and true scotsman are different fallacies. Question-begging is explicitly stacking your conclusion into one or more premise. No true scotsman is moving goal posts to meet exceptions, i.e. making something an elastic category that malleates to meet any found exception. – virmaior Nov 3 '15 at 14:39

All informal fallacies are superficially similar to strong arguments --they draw force from being mistaken for them. In the case where "Scotsman" has a clearly delineated, non-mutable set of defining traits, it is not fallacious to require correspondence with those traits. The No True Scotsman fallacy is when the defining criteria are altered or introduced solely as an attempt to escape a disfavored claim ("You said all Scotsmen are honest, but MacGregor is a liar." "Well, MacGregor is no true Scotsman, then!").

What, however, about the case where two terms are proposed from the start, both "Scotsman" and "True Scotsman"? It might be that, as you progress, you legitimately refine your understanding of what a "True Scotsman" needs to be. In that case, however, you end with two terms defined differently. It is subsequently illegitimate to take things you have established for the "True Scotsman" and apply them to the "Scotsman."

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