4

I feel like this fallacy should have a name.

Here is the toy example. Alice and Bob have one loaf of bread between them. For some reason only one of them is allowed eat the bread; they cannot share it. Alice says "I should have the bread because if I don't have it I'll get very hungry and starve".

What she says is true. However it is a universal fact that applies equally to Bob and thus doesn't support her position.

Here is a more real example. Suppose there is a minority government and the Prime Minister wants to make a deal with the opposition. The PM wants the opposition to agree to support them on their next 3 years of budgets. In return the opposition gets some benefits which are not important for the purposes of this example. The PM says "We need to make this arrangement because it's impossible for the government to make any progress if they are forever at risk of being kicked out of power."

Here the PM takes the universal fact that 'A minority government is always at risk of being kicked out' and pretends it is particular evidence for their conclusion.

In other words the PM says "We need an arrangement because X". But if X was true then it would be impossible for ANY minority party to make any progress without an arrangement, and this is untrue.

Edit: I am not looking for a way to reformulate this fallacy to be an example of another named fallacy. I am asking whether the above has a specific name.

  • 3
    It reminds me what is called the politician's syllogism: we must do something, this is something, therefore we must do it. A variation used in some commercials: do you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning? Then you need our product. – Conifold Sep 4 '18 at 20:04
  • 1
    I would call this an "incomplete argument". EG, here is one reason we should do X. Thus, we should do X. It doesn't consider other reasons for doing or not doing X. In your toy example: doing X will help at least one person; therefore we should do X. Of course, the opposing argument would be how many people get hurt when we do X (for example). – barrycarter Sep 4 '18 at 20:11
  • @Conifold Didn't know that one, had a good laugh since the name is so very fitting ;) – Philip Klöcking Sep 4 '18 at 20:15
  • @Conifold - I'm laughing also. Two wonderful examples of manipulative reasoning. – PeterJ Sep 7 '18 at 11:37
1

Alice and Bob have one loaf of bread between them. For some reason only one of them is allowed eat the bread; they cannot share it. Alice says "I should have the bread because if I don't have it I'll get very hungry and starve".

The fallacy is Begging the Question. Alice is assuming what she sets out to prove. As I see it, this fallacy is the only way Alice can arrive at her conclusion without adding more premises.

Alternatively, Alice's argument might be ad hominem; in other words, she is saying there is something wrong with Bob as a person, or something superior about herself. Or the argument might have some other unspoken premise to draw a distinction between the two people, in which case its fallacy might be ambiguity, or even the fallacy of four terms.

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.