1

Obviously, when making an argument, it is in one's best interest to make their argument logically solid and not engage in arguments that your opponents will not take seriously. One way to lose credibility in your argument is to invoke Godwin's Law, which says once you've made a comparison to Nazis in your argument you've lost your debate, namely because you're out of ammunition and are using the extreme violence of the holocaust to bolster your claim.

But what can you do if someone is doing something that is quite literally something instituted by the Nazi regime? Your objective is not to incite emotion from your opponent, but merely to say "Nazi policies revoked the rights specifically targeted at source countries and specific religions. This proposed policy does the same."

I'd like to make the comparison because it is factual, strongly correlated both in deed and in motivation. It's not "You know who ELSE breathed Oxygen?! HITLER!"

  • See Reductio ad Hitlerum: it can be classified as a form of association fallacy (or hasty-generalization): "All that has been done by Hitler was bad. Hitler berathed oxygen. Therefore: to breath oxygen is bad." – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 7 '17 at 6:43
  • The generalization regarding Hitler's actions must be "restricted" at most to its political and social theories and actions, in order to be used as a "safe" premise for an argument. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Jun 7 '17 at 6:44
  • 1
    Nazi regime was the government of Germany for a decade. So many governments will have policies similar to "quite literally something instituted by the Nazi regime". Whether the objective is to incite emotions or not in and of itself this is of minor relevance, if any (and it will stir emotions anyway, hence the Godwin's "law") . The revocation of rights that Nazi's did, was presumably wrong on the merits, it is these merits that should be argued instead of reasoning by analogy. – Conifold Jun 7 '17 at 17:32
1

As you say, similarity in and of itself isn't the important thing (Hitler breathing air) but instead the fact that is similar to one of the actions or ideas we collectively agree were bad (invading other countries, gassing Jews, etc).

The idea that you've failed in an argument when you bring up Hitler isn't a logical one, it's just to do with what is considered good and bad rhetoric. There are many places where the comparison could be useful, but often the comparison is fairly weak (left vs right politicians calling the other side "literally Nazis") which has led to it the comparison being diluted in its rhetorical effect

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.