I am studying physics and have often come across the line of reasoning that goes like this:

"Phenomenon A is/happens this way because otherwise it would contradict the B principle."

Physics is a body of knowledge, it is incomplete and subject to improvement (or indeed to full paradigm shifts) at all times, and the theories and principles it boasts are simply the best (or most widely accepted, rather) explanations for phenomena that someone has come up with to date. They are certainly not absolute and therefore I don't think they are satisfactory structures to place one's understanding onto.

I am looking for a coherent and logical way to explain this fallacy (perhaps it even has a name?), as my knowledge of logical fallacies is limited and the few books and websites I've consulted did not help. Thanks for your help.

  • 1
    It isn't a fallacy, "as far as we know to date" always applies, so there is no point repeating it each time. As incomplete and improvable as it is, what choice do we have but to base our understanding on the best we got?
    – Conifold
    Jul 29, 2020 at 15:30
  • There are two reasons why I maintain it is a fallacy: 1. There are more than one "as far as we know to date"s, meaning more than the mainstream theory in many fields of study in science; and 2. By accepting explanations on these terms, as they fit into a puzzle that is almost surely flawed, we are effectively closing our mind off to exploring deeper connections and hypotheses.
    – user47665
    Jul 29, 2020 at 15:55
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    Keeping an open mind is always good, but accepting an explanation as it currently stands does not preclude one from searching further, it is part of it. Perhaps, what you are looking for is called dogmatism, but the opposite of it, buying into alternative "explanations" too easily, is equally "fallacious". And who is to say which is which in tough cases? In the end, it is about wrong judgment calls, not about invalid reasoning. Not everything bad is a fallacy.
    – Conifold
    Jul 29, 2020 at 16:49

2 Answers 2


There's no fallacy involved. I'd rather say, what you deem a fallacy comes down to the practice of inferring to the best explanation. That pattern of reasoning is sometimes said to be fallacious because it is bound to select the best hypothesis among those under consideration, which might be a bad lot after all (if you care, search for Van Fraassen's "bad lot objection"). And yet, going for the best explanation in light of the theoretical background is all you can hold a researcher accountable for, it seems to me, and it does not entail being dogmatic about it.


From what I can tell, it’s based on a pre-existing, establish norm or fact (as categorized by principle B), and referring to Principle A as anything that falls under the specific category that relies on the specifics of principle B, known as principle A. Which seems like a self-explanatory basis. But that system is based on pre-established guidelines for categorization, where the unknown factor of abnormal results would otherwise contradict these foundings. Like how birds are defined by principle b and principle a would be the means of classification all the way up til the Kiwi, a bird with fur. This could either redefine the principle, negate the logic that the principle is founded on, or introduce a wildcard factor known as the ‘exception.’ All in all though, this is based on context regarding what the principles are, and what evidence has been compiled by which to establish those principles, and what factors exist under principle A that support that it is defined or restricted by principle B, and why. Existence of factors that negate these would either negate the definition of the principle, create the situation where the phenomena known as an exception is introduced or included, or not be applicable to the scenario. It’s all based on what data or facts are established to back which claim.

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