Firmitas

Appeal to Authority

Revision 1
© 2011-2019 by Zack Smith. All rights reserved.

Appeal to Authority

This is also called Argumentum ad verecundiam.

Because a claim is expressed by an authority, or elites, meaning a person or persons in power, somehow it is automatically true. This is not to be confused with authority in the sense of being an expert.

  • Proposition P is expressed by an authority or someone connected with authority.
  • Therefore Proposition P is deemed true or reliable. ]]

This is a form of red herring.

Examples

The World Health Organization and corporate media are considered to be authorities. These authorities say we should panic about Swine Flu and pay for a vaccination. Therefore it is true that you should panic and pay.

Weaknessess

Appeal to authority asserts that power equals truth, or that the powerful can define truth and conceal the facts. That is ridiculous on the face of it. Whether a claim is true or false does not depend on who expresses it, or fails to express it.

The authority can be a politician, a public official, a corporate-funded scientist, a politically-influenced scientist, etc.