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I'm struggling and googled but cannot find something that's in the recesses of my mind.

Bertrand Russell (I think) described a logical fallacy where one could describe the same behavior / characteristic in several ways. One way would be positive, another somewhat neutral and the third highly negative. Each one is evaluating the same behavior but describing it differently.

Example:

- I will defend what is right even if it's an unpopular opinion.

- You are obstinate and won't listen to reason.

TIA for any help in tracking this down.

EDIT:

The logical fallacy here was one of equivocation where the user reframes a statement in a more negative or positive light as suits his argument.

I remember it more as a essay on language and how people, often unwittingly, distort the way they frame the conversation.

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  • It's a fallacy that seems underpinned by relativism broadly speaking. In the sequence ABC, both A and C are extremes for B, B looks like A to C and like C to A. Jan 5, 2023 at 9:53
  • @AgentSmith - it is relativistic - but closer to an equivocation fallacy.
    – Mayo
    Jan 5, 2023 at 16:34
  • These two sentences are clearly not describing the same behaviour.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 4, 2023 at 18:55

3 Answers 3

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Logical Fallacy Is Not What You Think It Is

A logical fallacy is only when premises don't lead to conclusion (the reasoning is wrong).

"All stars are blue therefore you are beautiful" is a logical fallacy. Even if all stars are blue it has nothing to do with your beauty.

Describing Same Thing As Different In Different Contexts Is Not A Premise

Its multiple premises.

To be a premise the thing has to be one unit (even if it has multiple parts) in one context.

"You are young and bold" is a premise. In the same context, say work environment, you are young and bold.

"Those were the good days, those were the bad days" is not a premise. In the same context same days cannot be all good and all bad.

To be a premise a statement has to be either true or false, not both, not neither. The truthiness is defined by matching with facts.

The Statements You Provide Are Neither Logical Fallacies Nor Describing Same Things Differently In Different Contexts

"I will defend what is right even if it's an unpopular opinion"

The thing is described only once. Its described as right. Its not described ever again. There is only one context.

The statement is not a logical fallacy. Being right do not imply that it cannot be defended. Being right also do not imply that it cannot be unpopular.

"You are obstinate and won't listen to reason"

The "you" is described only once so there are no multiple contexts.

Being obstinate do lead to the conclusion. There is therefore no logical fallacy.

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  • The logical fallacy here was one of equivocation, reframing the statement in a more negative or positive light.
    – Mayo
    Jan 5, 2023 at 16:29
  • They are totally different statements describing very different behaviours.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 4, 2023 at 18:56
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I will defend what is right even if it's an unpopular opinion.

You are obstinate and won't listen to reason.

This is a personal attack (ad hominem) fallacy. The second person resorts to a character attack (obstinate and unreasonable) instead of addressing the first person's argument.

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That's not what equivocation means. Here's an example of equivocation:

Nothing is better than God. A half-eaten jelly donut is better than nothing. Thus, a half-eaten jelly donut is better than God.

In the fallacy of equivocation you have a word or phrase with multiple senses, where you use the senses in different places in the argument as if they were all the same thing.

What you've described is just two different opinions on what is happening. It's not a fallacy to have a different opinion from someone else.

  • I will defend what is right even if it's an unpopular opinion.

For this to be true, then the speaker (call him A) must actually be defending what is right. If the speaker is not defending what is right, then it is a false statement.

  • You are obstinate and won't listen to reason.

For this to be true, then someone (call him B) must be speaking reason to A, and A is not listening to it. If B is speaking, but not speaking reason, then this is a false statement. If A is listening, but has a reasonable reason to disagree, then this is again a false statement.

Neither of these statements are fallacies, and they are not equivocation. They are just different perspectives on an event. Which is true and which is false depends on the actual circumstances of the event.

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