Bo Bennet calls the golden hammer a pseudo-logical fallacy and describes it thus:

Proposing the same type of solution to different types of problems. This is more of an error in creativity or knowledge than reasoning.

RationalWiki views it as a logical fallacy and claims it

occurs when you propose the same, simple solution (or type of solution) to every problem.

Although I can see Bennett's perspective. It does seem more like an error in creativity or knowledge, but the way I see it being used seems deceptive. For example, we have computers, why should anything think that all of reality can be explained as a computer simulation? Or, in a political context, assuming we have funds, does that mean spending money is the appropriate solution to a political problem?

What I am looking for are references that will help me clarify what the golden hammer means in an argument. Is it a fallacy or not? Perhaps it is part of a larger form of reasoning that may or may not be fallacious. Hence the question:

Is the golden hammer fallacy a real fallacy?

Bennett, B. "Pseudo-Logical Fallacies" Retrieved on April 28, 2019 from Logically Fallacious at https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/6/Pseudo-Logical-Fallacies

"Golden hammer" Retrieved on April 28, 2019 from RationalWiki at https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Golden_hammer

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    The way I see it is that fallacy and fail are etymologically very closely related and from similar roots. Both words have meanings to convey error, mistaken judgment, and to deceive, to cheat, or to trick. So imho anything that leads to serious error is somehow fallacious. etymonline.com/word/fallacy#etymonline_v_1097 etymonline.com/word/fail
    – Bread
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 18:32
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    @Bread I agree. A fallacy may be more than a failure of reasoning. It is often found in the failing of an argument. Deception suggests ethics although it may be people deceiving themselves. Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 19:26
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    The more traditional name for this kind of simplistic thinking is "panacea", and "X is not a panacea" is a widely used idiom. It is obviously based on false analogies and hasty generalizations, but also bad judgments and cognitive biases. But in line with calling all kinds of mistakes "fallacies" people talk about "panacea fallacy" as well. I do not think there is such a thing as "real fallacy" when it comes to informal fallacies. Outside of formal reasoning it is impossible to disentangle mistakes in judgment (soundness) from mistakes in reasoning (validity), even ad baculum is a "fallacy"
    – Conifold
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 22:24
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    Yeah. Sometimes in engineering this is referred to as the X-Y problem.
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 14:56
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    @FrankHubeny very common problem in engineering generally, and particular in software engineering. 'Solutionising' before deciding if there's actually a problem at all.
    – Richard
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 15:15

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, this is an abuse of the term "fallacy," since the golden hammer is not actually an argument, but rather a strategy. The implied argument under the strategy is either "this worked for X, therefore it will work for Y" (where "Y" does NOT have relevant characteristics in common with "X"), which is a form of a fallacy called "false analogy," or it is "this worked for X, therefore it works for everything," which is called "hasty generalization."

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