7

Assuming you were in a debate and your opponent posited the argument:

"Of course we should do X, its (year)!" or "its the (number) century!" or the somewhat related "we aren't living in (time period)".

for any subject.

"Of course we should allow gay marriage, its not the dark ages!"
"Of course we should allow abortion, its 2013!"
"Of course we should allow the use of chemical weapons, its the 21st century!"
"Of course we should allow eugenics, its the 21st century!"

Regardless of whether I agree with any of the above statements, the fact that my opponent can name the current year or point to the fact that a time period has passed does not provide any basis for supporting his/her argument.

Does this argumentative fallacy have a specific name?

Many thanks in advance

1

2 Answers 2

9

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronological_snobbery

A logical argument (and usually when thus termed, considered an outright fallacy) describing the erroneous argument that the thinking, art, or science of an earlier time is inherently inferior to that of the present, simply by virtue of its temporal priority.

0

What is interesting about the above mentioned examples is that in each case, the phrase assigns a particular characteristic that represents or reveals their social character and mindset. Each phrase assigns a negative characteristic towards traditional or conservative mindsets, while simultaneously, it assigns a positive characteristic towards contemporary, liberal and progressive mindsets. The nature of the phrases assumes that the present, moves ahead and correctly defies historical rigidity.

If someone asks, "We have modern modes of transport which allows us to travel at faster speeds and greater distances. Would you prefer a Pre-Industrialized way of travel?" This type of question, while "chronologically snobbish", is much more intellectually honest and recognizes the fantasy that likely exists when historical sentimentalists wish to bring back a so-called "bygone era". Do we, in all honesty, as contemporary humans, really wish to return to the days of horse and buggies, chariots, as well as wooden ships? My guess-(though hardly empirical), is that most contemporary humans, enjoy the advancements and comforts of modern transportation. This type of "chronological snobbery", in my opinion, is justifiable, because it is probably more realistic, despite the sarcastic and ridiculing tone.

However, if someone asks, "We have the Internet and Digital Libraries. Do you really want to go back to a time when there were places called, Bookstores and Libraries?" Actually, as someone who lived during a time when there were numerous Bookstores and Libraries, I am a bit nostalgic and tend to miss, "the good ole' days", when one could visit a number of Bookstores and Libraries in a town or City. Here is an example of how a Contemporary mindset might scoff at my statement, thereby revealing his or her own, "Chronological snobbery" or impatience with anything that existed before their time. The Contemporary mindset assumes-(perhaps erroneously and fallaciously), that speed and volume, has always been and is always, a good thing for society. The Contemporary mindset also assumes that having an indifference or impatience towards anything prior to their time, is equally, a good thing for society. This type of statement, could be viewed as logically fallacious.

"Chronological snobbery", is not a Logical Absolute. It is neither universally fallacious, nor is it universally valid. It is one of those complex and self-contradictory/paradoxical concepts that is related to a specific type of question-(as shown above). There are instances when a so-called, "bygone era" or "the good ole' days", can be appropriately and justifiably sentimentalized, though there are many more instances when the so-called, "bygone era" or "good ole' days", are back where they belong...in the PAST.

2
  • "its not the dark ages" also means, it's not classical antiquity. The standard of living of the average citizen in Rome was not exceeded in any other city until London in the 1720s, nearly 1500 years later. Dismissing the past has it's own issues, not least being 'doomed to repeat' mistakes. We need to integrate ourselves with our pasts, and be wary of change for the sake of it. 'Legibility is interesting in this context: ribbonfarm.com/2010/07/26/a-big-little-idea-called-legibility
    – CriglCragl
    Jul 13, 2021 at 10:01
  • Could you be a little more specific with regard to the fallacy of "Chronological snobbery"?
    – Alex
    Jul 13, 2021 at 17:11

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.