2

Here is the scenario. I'm working with a different technology for programming and I present it to my co-worker who is not up-to-speed on the new technology. He replies that there may be some hypothetical person in the future who will struggle with the code therefore the benefits of the programming technology are inconsequential.

Is this a straw-man argument? I feel calling it a straw-man argument is inappropriate because people use the term straw-man too many times to describe logical flaws. Surely there is a more appropriate way to describe the invalidation of another person's opinion because of a hypothetical scenario.

If I know the flaw in his logic then I can expose the logical flaw and have a more productive outcome to the conversation.

  • 2
    Ability to hire from a large pool of applicants is a business benefit to the company. That's why it's often better to use a widely accepted language or framework than an obscure one. Without more detail I don't necessarily see your co-worker's position as a logical fallacy. Maybe (s)he just understands business better than you. Not saying that's the case, only that with the info you presented that's a possible interpretation. – user4894 Mar 7 at 16:50
  • I made some changes to the tags and minor grammar changes. You may roll these back or continue editing if I misrepresented your question. Welcome! – Frank Hubeny Mar 7 at 18:36
  • Don't be a millenial programming language evangelist. It's passe. Instead, show ypur brilliance not through recommending the use of Haskel-gothon, but by writing solid reuseable, easy to maintain Java code? – Richard Mar 7 at 18:46
  • There seems to be a non-hypothetical person in the present who struggles with the code, or at least has a problem with it. I do not see how this implies that "the new technology is inconsequential", so that would be a non-sequitur. But I have a feeling that there is something in your co-workers argument, if it is that, that you skipped. Is the conclusion, perhaps, that implementing the new code is not worth the trouble given that the older way of coding is entrenched? If so, this is just cost/benefit analysis, even if it is incorrect it is not a fallacy. – Conifold Mar 7 at 19:07
1

Bo Bennett describes a straw man fallacy in the following way:

Substituting a person’s actual position or argument with a distorted, exaggerated, or misrepresented version of the position of the argument.

This does not seem to fit the scenario because there doesn't seem to be any distortion of someone's position involved:

Here is the scenario. I'm working with a different technology for programming and I present it to my co-worker who is not up-to-speed on the new technology. He replies that there may be some hypothetical person in the future who will struggle with the code therefore the benefits of the programming technology are inconsequential.

What the co-worker says may be true. Your suggestion that the new technology may be better may also be true.

The following might be useful in an argument as the OP mentions:

If I know the flaw in his logic then I can expose the logical flaw and have a more productive outcome to the conversation.

However, Bennett warns against using logical fallacies as an offensive play in an argument:

I caution you against correcting fallacies that your opponent might raise. As you will see in this book, fallacies go by many different names, and there are varying definitions for the fallacies.

But if you do attempt to correct your opponents' fallacies, Bennett notes that "what you certainly should be prepared for, is your opponents pointing out your fallacies". It is perhaps for that reason, as defense, that it is good to know about them.

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.