Firmitas

Slippery Slope

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

Slippery Slope

A slippery slope argument (or Camel's Nose) says that once a small situation is accepted or comes about, it will ultimately and inevitably lead to a larger and usually worse situation. There may be just a few steps to reach that outcome, or many.

Its form
  • Proposition P says that A leads to B leads to C leads to ultimately some Outcome.
  • Proposition Q says that nothing resists that progression.
  • Therefore some Proposition R is true.

Examples

If we rich people give the poor any assistance at all, they will demand more and more until finally we have given them everything and they are in control. Therefore we must give them nothing!

This is a fallacy because the outcome is clearly not implied, and nothing in the statement indicates that the steps toward that outcome will proceed without resistance.

Weaknesses

To expose the bogosity of the slippery slope argument, demand an explanation of the mechanism by which event A will so easily beget event B and C and D and so on. They won't be able to, or will deploy another fallacy or poor reasoning e.g. Appeal to Authority, to deflect the inquiry.

The longer the sequence of events leading to the outcome, the more difficulty the arguer will have in proving all of the transitions.

The arguer will surely argue that there is little or no delay or resistance in the progression, because these would contradict the inevitability of the Outcome. Demand proof for these claims.

If the transitions are different, for instance A begets B for different reasons than B begets C, demand explanations for each and every type of transition. This will expose the ignorance of the arguer and the shabbiness of the argument.

In a slippery slope fallacy, the rationale and evidence for the inevitable Outcome are typically not well justified and may be founded on suspicion, superstition, distrust, paranoia, rumors etc. Explore why the arguer has those views.