-1
  • Does A possess property B?
  • You asked -> you already know it does

This tends to appear as responses to questions about fitness, law, morality, etc.

This post does not quite cover it, and makes no mention of the fallacy it is an example of.

It's obviously a non-sequitur, but is there a more specific category? This list gives no obvious relevant subsection, but it might not be comprehensive.

[edit] Maybe an appeal to emotion?

  • Is there a reason why you believe this is a fallacy? If it is one, it is clearly an informal one (and thus open to debate in each case as to whether a fallacy is being invoked). But more importantly, a fallacy can only occur in an argument (not meaning here a spat), and it's not clear that this is an argument. – virmaior Jun 14 '16 at 11:26
  • @virmaior (sorry, prev. comment was a mess) Not the best example, but it will do. JoeTaxpayer's comment is an attempt to strengthen the "it's wrong" position by using the existence of the question as proof that it is. "since it's a controversial issue, it's obvious it's wrong" might be a variant of it. That is not what controversy means. Non-sequitur (a formal fallacy) seems to match this. Do you believe it's not a non-sequitur? Ah, I see - I had to ask, so I obviously know it's not, my mistake – kaay Jun 14 '16 at 12:05
  • Okay, in that case, it might be an appeal to conscience or an appeal to sense (or common sense). But it's not entirely clear if that is fallacious since it's a moral argument. 1 there's no obvious reason he has a right to the points, which makes it look like an error. 2. there's no reason to expect that someone making an error grants the one whom the error favors the right to dispose s they will... – virmaior Jun 14 '16 at 12:35
  • I probably wouldn't categorize what is linked as a non-sequitur, which is actually an informal fallacy in the usage described here since you're not looking at a formal argument (one that seeks to adhere to a rather limited set of rules of inference. – virmaior Jun 14 '16 at 12:37
  • @virmaior I saw statements that could be represented by syllogisms with invalid logic. They're not idioms, so I take them at face value. I admit I am confused by "right to points" and "granting the right to dispose". – kaay Jun 14 '16 at 13:43
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I take this to be an informal fallacy since we're not looking at a proper deductive argument but rather a conversational argument. As such, there's going to be room for disagreement as to whether any specific case of this is fallacious. (see Sample/ Guide: What is the name of fallacy: A implies B. Therefore C?)

I'd call this an appeal to conscience or potential an appeal to commonsense depending on the context. (see for instance https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=RtUrOUGI50YC&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=appeal+to+conscience+fallacy&source=bl&ots=a45VKzRlA4&sig=tMwnI5G5qTGYyhgAlxTGGMc9ltM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwizoZeU4KfNAhVB2qYKHddQAUkQ6AEIHjAA#v=onepage&q=appeal%20to%20conscience%20fallacy&f=false ).

There's probably more references in the literature to "common sense" appeals and perhaps we can put all of these under appeal to emotion but at least for my reading, the best term would be an appeal to conscience.

A: is X wrong?
B: you already know that X is wrong because that's why you're asking this

I take it that what's happening is B is suggesting that A has an internal sense that it's wrong that is inspiring the question. This is simultaneously an appeal to conscience because just because A feels trepidation, guilt, or doubts about X does not actually by itself make X wrong (except on certain naive sentimentalist views).


So for instance, if you subscribe to a positive law view, then the supposition that people know things are wrong by conscience is going to be fallacious. (Think Nuremberg trials). Whereas if you subscribe to a natural law view, then many appeals to conscience can be correct. If you're Kant, then at least on my reading, you're committed to believing people's consciences never err (see MPV). If you're Hegel, you're committed to believing people's consciences are irrelevant to moral content.

  • "appeal to conscience" sounds most accurate given my interpretation, thank you. – kaay Jun 14 '16 at 15:06

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