Firmitas

Appeal to Consequences

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

Appeal to Consequences

This is also called Argumentum ad consequentiam.

This is when the arguer, knowing that a proposition P implies conclusion Q, insists either that Q is false because of his subjective response to Q:

  • P implies Q.
  • Proposition Q is unpleasant or disadvantageous.
  • Therefore Proposition P is deemed to be false. ]]

  • P implies Q.
  • Proposition Q is pleasant or advantageous.
  • Therefore Proposition P is deemed to be true. ]]

Or conceivably a masochist would deny P if Q were pleasant.

Examples of the positive form

If a god's existence implies that his miracles can happen, the arguer might say I like miracles so of course the god exists.

If global warning's existence implies that we can make huge profits by speculating in the carbon credits market, then a well-connected politian might say I like making huge profits through speculation; therefore global warning is entirely true.

Examples of the negative form

If candy is unhealthy, therefore eating it makes you unwell, an arguer with a sweet tooth might say I see no evidence that candy

     makes you unwell therefore candy is not unhealthy''.

If bankers commit crimes through predatory lending or derivatives speculation, they should go to jail. But an elected politican, who took lots of money from those bankers, might say I cannot let bankers go to prison therefore they did not commit crimes.

Weaknesses

Whether the consequence Q is pleasant or not, or advantageous or not has no bearing on its truth value. Nor does it have any bearing on the truth of the premise P.

One can point out that wishful thinking is operating in the arguer's mind, not a sincere search for truth.