Author Topic: What that fallacy?  (Read 695 times)

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Offline John Albert

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2019, 10:40:38 PM »
The erroneous reasoning in this case is that you can't generalise from a specific case to the general. I don't see why anyone would need to be more precise than that.

The error in the OP example is trying to extrapolate from a general rule to a more specific situation.

"Killing is wrong" is a general rule, and "killing in self-defense" is a more specific circumstance where 'killing is wrong' should be an exception to that rule.

That's a sweeping generalization.


A hasty generalization is the inverse.

It erroneously extrapolates from a specific to the general. A hasty generalization would be something like, "Killing in self-defense is permissible," therefore "all killing is permissible."

Does that make sense?


But since we're talking about logical fallacies on a skeptics' forum, I'm pretty sure we're just doing it for academic interest, rather than actually trying to learn something from the discussion.

Hey, I'm always trying to learn something.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2019, 10:46:49 PM by John Albert »

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2019, 11:03:07 PM »
The erroneous reasoning in this case is that you can't generalise from a specific case to the general. I don't see why anyone would need to be more precise than that.

The error in the OP example is trying to extrapolate from a general rule to a more specific situation.

"Killing is wrong" is a general rule, and "killing in self-defense" is a more specific circumstance where 'killing is wrong' should be an exception to that rule.

That's a sweeping generalization.


A hasty generalization is the inverse.

It erroneously extrapolates from a specific to the general. A hasty generalization would be something like, "Killing in self-defense is permissible," therefore "all killing is permissible."

Does that make sense?

Of course. I'm just saying that for most purposes it is sufficient to say that it was a fallacious generalisation. You don't need to name it. If someone actually made that argument I'd explain why you can't make that kind of generalisation, rather than merely arguing by naming logical fallacies.


But since we're talking about logical fallacies on a skeptics' forum, I'm pretty sure we're just doing it for academic interest, rather than actually trying to learn something from the discussion.

Hey, I'm always trying to learn something.

Fair enough and more power to you. But we can also explore a topic out of pure academic enjoyment too. :)
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Offline John Albert

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #17 on: November 11, 2019, 12:00:22 AM »
Despite both of them being faulty generalizations, the 'hasty' and 'sweeping' types are typically employed in different kinds of situations for different reasons.

For example, the sweeping generalization fallacy is often used to create alarm about a certain kind of activity or behavior.

"The study found lung disease 22% more prevalent among smokers than non-smokers. So if you smoke, you have a 22% chance of contracting lung disease."

It's not a reasonable extrapolation because the probability distribution cannot be uniform among all individuals in that study. Some of the subjects may have only smoked on occasion. Some may have higher or lower genetic predisposition to lung disease. Some may have engaged in hazardous work or other other activities that affected their individual risk. It's a sweeping generalization because you can't extrapolate a complicated statistic from a general group down to every individual.

The hasty generalization is commonly misused in other ways.

"Trump voters are bigots."

That's a hasty generalization because it focuses on only one conspicuous attribute of some Trump supporters, and tries to apply that to everybody who voted for Trump. It ignores the possibility that some people may have had other reasons for voting for him, and may not have even heard him say all that racist stuff or may believe it was all just 'fake news.'

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #18 on: November 11, 2019, 09:43:46 AM »
I will give a little more context, I withheld on account of it being discussion of the libertarian non-aggression principle(NAP).

Anyrate, the discussion went like this:
Libertarians are really just authoritarians who want to hold others to higher standards than themselves because the NAP can't predict what the law would be in every situation.  The example being, owning a tiger.  Some of the libertarians in the room thought it would be reasonable for a government to limit the ability of citizens to own tigers on account of tigers being dangerous and being animals which deserve decent treatment. 

Any rate, it seemed pretty obvious to me that the reasoning was fairly nonsensical and probably a logical fallacy that I couldn't put my finger on. 


Offline John Albert

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #19 on: November 11, 2019, 12:10:04 PM »
Like all stereotypes about people, that one about libertarians is a hasty generalization.

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #20 on: November 11, 2019, 12:47:10 PM »
Like all stereotypes about people, that one about libertarians is a hasty generalization.
I still think the specific criticism of the non-aggression principle is more of a sweeping generalization.

The NAP doesn't tell me what will happen in this circumstance, therefore, its not valid.    Off course this is a fairly pedantic conversation suitable only for the internets.

Offline John Albert

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #21 on: November 12, 2019, 06:51:17 AM »
I still think the specific criticism of the non-aggression principle is more of a sweeping generalization.

The NAP doesn't tell me what will happen in this circumstance, therefore, its not valid. Off course this is a fairly pedantic conversation suitable only for the internets.

That sounds more like an argument from ignorance to me, but maybe I don't understand the argument.

The non-aggression principle is the libertarian rule that prohibits any action that would deprive another person of their property or life, correct?

Offline Ah.hell

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #22 on: November 12, 2019, 08:55:50 AM »
I think its pretty self explanatory. 

Aggression is wrong.  So, don't going hitting or steeling from people.  A generally good principle but not one I've ever taken as anything more than a golden rule kinda of thing.   Some libertarians seem to put a lot of stock in it. 

Offline John Albert

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #23 on: November 12, 2019, 06:09:37 PM »
But many libertarians believe the non-aggression principle also has other implications by extension, which many non-libertarians think are kinda nutty. For example, many libertarians argue the NAP means that taxes are theft, and public protection laws are infringements on the rights of business owners. They'll make that argument in complete denial of the reality that laws exist because many businesses have historically turned out to be egregious polluters, poisoners, scammers, and negligent manufacturers.

So you're saying the way those particular libertarians interpret the NAP is a sweeping generalization because it starts with an ostensibly reasonable but excessively generalized premise ("aggression is wrong"), then proceeds to shoehorn in all these circumstances where "aggression" is reasonable, in order to  portray government regulations as wrong.

Yeah, I can see that.

Part of it is the weird way in which they're defining "aggression," such that fair play and the public good does not enter into it at all. So anybody who gets in their way is the enemy. To use the metaphor of a football game, they regard the referee as just as much their opponent as the other team.

« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 06:31:09 PM by John Albert »

Offline SnarlPatrick

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #24 on: November 13, 2019, 05:36:52 PM »
Do you mean "killing is not always wrong" or "killing is not ever wrong." Because the first one is true. Only murder/manslaughter is wrong. Justifiable homicide is not.

So your logical fallacy is equivocation between these two meanings.
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #25 on: November 13, 2019, 06:12:21 PM »
Do you mean "killing is not always wrong" or "killing is not ever wrong." Because the first one is true. Only murder/manslaughter is wrong. Justifiable homicide is not.

I disagree. Killing a human being, whether you think you have a justification or not, is always wrong. It may sometimes, in certain circumstances, be necessary, but that's not the same thing as not being wrong.
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Offline SnarlPatrick

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #26 on: November 13, 2019, 06:25:08 PM »
It might be unfortunate, or regrettable, or saddening, maddening, torturous even, but it isn't WRONG. Wrong suggests that you shouldn't have done it and done something else instead. Defending your life with lethal force isn't wrong. What definition of wrong could you be using?
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Offline arthwollipot

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #27 on: November 13, 2019, 10:27:46 PM »
It might be unfortunate, or regrettable, or saddening, maddening, torturous even, but it isn't WRONG. Wrong suggests that you shouldn't have done it and done something else instead. Defending your life with lethal force isn't wrong. What definition of wrong could you be using?

I mean morally wrong.
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Offline Ah.hell

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #28 on: November 13, 2019, 11:36:04 PM »
It might be unfortunate, or regrettable, or saddening, maddening, torturous even, but it isn't WRONG. Wrong suggests that you shouldn't have done it and done something else instead. Defending your life with lethal force isn't wrong. What definition of wrong could you be using?

I mean morally wrong.
You are clearly wrong then.  I'm about to shoot a baby in the head. You can stop me if you kill me first.  Do so is not morally wrong. 

Offline arthwollipot

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Re: What that fallacy?
« Reply #29 on: November 13, 2019, 11:52:54 PM »
It might be unfortunate, or regrettable, or saddening, maddening, torturous even, but it isn't WRONG. Wrong suggests that you shouldn't have done it and done something else instead. Defending your life with lethal force isn't wrong. What definition of wrong could you be using?

I mean morally wrong.
You are clearly wrong then.  I'm about to shoot a baby in the head. You can stop me if you kill me first.  Do so is not morally wrong.

Yes it is. It may be necessary, but that does not make it morally right. I've still killed a person.
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