Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

A Common Type of Argument, and the Rebuttals

Posted by Michael Dickens on December 16, 2008

This is an argument made against (idea).

(Person) who is affiliated with (thing) did (something bad) using (idea). Since (thing) endorses (idea), and (person) is affiliated with (thing), therefore (idea) is wrong.

1. (Person) is not a complete representation of (thing), and so if (person) does something or feels a certain way, (thing) does not necessarily endorse the same view.
2. Even if point 1 is false, and (idea) was used to endorse (something bad), that does not make (idea) wrong.
3. It is sometimes not even true that (person) did (something bad) using (idea).
4. It is sometimes not even true that (person) is affiliated with (thing).

You wouldn’t think this would come up a lot, but it does.

EXAMPLE ONE
person: Hitler
thing: atheism
something bad: mass genocide
idea: the theory of evolution
Points one, two, three, and four all apply here.

EXAMPLE TWO
person: Al Gore
thing: theory that global warming is man-made
something bad: influenced the 2000 election
idea: theory that global warming is man-made
Points one, two, and three apply here.

Can you think of any more examples?

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