Genetic Fallacy

Description:

A Genetic Fallacy is a line of “reasoning” in which a perceived defect in the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence that discredits the claim or thing itself. It is also a line of reasoning in which the origin of a claim or thing is taken to be evidence for the claim or thing. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

1. The origin of a claim or thing is presented.

2. The claim is true(or false) or the thing is supported (or discredited).

It is clear that sort of “reasoning” is fallacious. For example: “Bill claims that 1+1=2. However, my parents brought me up to believe that 1+1=254, so Bill must be wrong.”

It should be noted that there are some cases in which the origin of a claim is relevant to the truth or falsity of the claim. For example, a claim that comes from a reliable expert is likely to be true (provided it is in her area of expertise).

Example #1

“Yeah, the environmentalists do claim that over-development can lead to all kinds of serious problems. But we all know about those darn bunny huggers and their silly views!.”

Example #2

“I was brought up to believe in God, and my parents told me God exists, so He must.”

Example #3

“Sure, the media claims that Senator Bedfellow was taking kickbacks. But we all know about the media’s credibility, don’t we.”

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Published in: on March 12, 2008 at 6:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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