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Slippery Slope Fallacy: Definition and Examples


When you don’t proceed studying this weblog submit, you received’t be taught concerning the slippery slope fallacy. And then you definitely received’t have the ability to acknowledge it if you learn it . . . or when it reveals up in your personal writing. And when you can’t acknowledge the slippery slope fallacy, you’ll be able to’t reply to it appropriately or revise your work to take away it. 

Do you see a sample rising right here, the place one motion supposedly impacts one other and one other? This, in a nutshell, is the slippery slope fallacy.

What’s the slippery slope fallacy?

The slippery slope fallacy is a logical fallacy that claims one occasion or motion will result in one other, extra excessive occasion or motion. This may very well be by immediately inflicting that follow-up occasion, setting a precedent for it, or just creating an surroundings the place that follow-up occasion can happen. Different names for the slippery slope fallacy embrace the dam burst fallacy, domino fallacy, and skinny finish of a wedge. 

Here’s a fast instance of the slippery slope fallacy: 

  • When you don’t take honors programs, you received’t get into an excellent school. 

Clearly, taking a rigorous course load as a excessive schooler typically makes you a extra enticing applicant to high schools. However to assert you can’t get accepted to a extremely ranked school with out taking honors programs is inaccurate—and fallacious. That’s what separates the slippery slope fallacy from logically extrapolating how a state of affairs will seemingly prove: 

  • When you don’t take honors programs, your software could also be much less enticing to an excellent school.

We’ll cowl non-fallacious makes use of of the slippery slope later on this submit. First, let’s be taught precisely what the slippery slope fallacy is, what it covers, and the way it’s used. 

The slippery slope fallacy is an casual fallacy. That signifies that the logical disconnect is throughout the argument’s content material, relatively than its construction. In different phrases, it’s attainable to make a logical argument in the identical format as a slippery slope declare, like on this instance: 

  • When you depart your automobile unlocked in a single day, you face the next threat of somebody breaking into it. 

Different casual fallacies embrace the pink herring fallacy and the advert hominem fallacy.

In distinction, a formal fallacy is an argument the place the conclusion doesn’t logically comply with the premise. The enchantment to likelihood fallacy is a proper fallacy. Right here is an instance:

  • If we cancel our journey, the climate might be stunning. 

With the enchantment to likelihood, the arguer assumes that as a result of one thing is attainable, it’s assured

However let’s get again to the slippery slope fallacy, which is usually used to argue towards making a particular determination. This extends to laws—the slippery slope fallacy comes up rather a lot in discussions about coverage adjustments. Though it’s often used to argue towards taking a particular motion, a slippery slope argument isn’t, by definition, an argument towards one thing. It’s attainable to make a slippery slope argument in favor of one thing, like in these examples: 

  • By switching to a four-day workweek, staff can have extra time to spend with their households. By spending extra time with their households, they’ll be happier and extra productive at work. 
  • Eliminating tolls will maintain more cash in vacationers’ pockets, which they’ll spend on native points of interest whereas they’re right here. 

Remember the fact that even when these outcomes turn into true, they’re slippery slope arguments due to the assumed connection between the preliminary change and its consequence. 

What are the various kinds of slippery slope fallacies?

There are a couple of various kinds of slippery slope arguments. Every revolves across the core of the slippery slope fallacy: the assumed relationship between two or extra occasions or outcomes. These are the three forms of slippery slope fallacy: 

Causal slippery slope arguments

A causal slippery slope argument claims a minor inciting occasion will inevitably result in a significant consequence. Listed below are a couple of examples of the causal slippery slope fallacy: 

  • If college students are required to put on uniforms to high school, they’ll do much less procuring at native clothes shops. With much less enterprise, the shops will shut, which can harm our native financial system. 
  • Widening the highway will result in extra visitors on the town. Extra automobiles on the highway will result in extra collisions, which can make our city a harmful place to drive or stroll. 

Precedential slippery slope arguments

With a precedential slippery slope argument, the arguer claims that reacting to 1 concern in a particular method means they must react to different points that will come up sooner or later in the identical method, whatever the points’ similarity or lack thereof. Listed below are a couple of examples of precedential slippery slope arguments: 

  • If we enable this buyer to offer an IOU as a substitute of paying their full invoice, we’ll want to simply accept IOUs from anyone who can’t afford their complete invoice. 
  • If emotional assist canine are allowed on campus, what’s going to cease college students from attempting to carry emotional assist horses, snakes, or scorpions?

Conceptual slippery slope arguments

The final sort of slippery slope fallacy, a conceptual slippery slope, argues that as a result of it’s attainable to get from one state of affairs to a different by means of a sequence of steps, there is no such thing as a elementary distinction between the 2 situations. Constructing on this, a conceptual slippery slope claims the 2 situations should be handled the identical method due to this lack of elementary distinction. 

Have a look at these examples of the conceptual slippery slope fallacy:

  • Decreasing the voting age to 16 will make 14-year-olds wish to vote, after which as soon as we decrease it to 14, we’ll discover ourselves asking if we must always decrease it once more to 12 and even 10. 
  • First they’ll enable residents to maintain chickens of their yards, then they’ll begin permitting individuals to maintain pigs and sheep. Quickly, this whole neighborhood might be one big livestock farm. 

Can a slippery slope argument be logically sound?

Sure. As we talked about above, it’s attainable to make a logical argument utilizing the identical form of reasoning that usually results in a slippery slope fallacy. Have a look at this instance: 

  • Enjoyable our faculty’s admission standards will result in extra college students attending, which can put a better pressure on our already restricted assets.

It’s not illogical to assert that relaxed admission necessities would result in extra college students attending a college—in any case, extra college students are actually certified to attend. The distinction between a fallacious and non-fallacious slippery slope argument is the chance that the preliminary occasion will result in the consequence claimed. This isn’t a precise science, and due to this, an argument may hover someplace between logical and fallacious. 

As a author and discerning reader, one of the best you are able to do to identify, argue towards, and cease your self from making slippery slope arguments is to separate info from hypothesis and analysis any related statistics associated to a declare. Decide whether or not there’s proof to assist the claimed relationship between two or extra occasions, and the place attainable, see if there’s any document of the arguer’s declare really occurring. However understand that simply because one thing has occurred previously doesn’t assure that it’ll play out the identical method once more—although there’s a risk it would. 

That is just like the technique you should utilize to find out whether or not a declare about any person is a related level or a straw man argument—do the info assist the declare, or is it an oversimplified, excessive take?

It’s additionally necessary to assessment your writing fastidiously earlier than sending, posting, or submitting it. You may make a slippery slope argument with out realizing it or just current a tenuous relationship between two occasions as stronger than it’s. Whilst you’re at it, it’s a good suggestion to test your grammar and spelling as properly.

As you learn by means of a tough draft, pay shut consideration to issues like your phrase alternative and the place you can also make your work extra environment friendly and arranged. Typically, altering a slippery slope argument right into a logical one is so simple as swapping out a couple of phrases or structuring your declare differently. 

Slippery slope examples

  • If our state legalizes hashish, it’ll go on to legalize different medication, and we’ll see an enormous improve in dependancy issues.
  • Letting your sister keep over this weekend will make her suppose it’s okay to crash right here every time she needs. Quickly, she’ll be residing right here rent-free.
  • If I grant deadline extensions for college students who take private break day, I’ll have to start out granting them for nonemergency causes like holidays. Then, deadlines received’t imply something, so I would as properly get rid of these. 

Slippery slope FAQs 

What’s the slippery slope fallacy?

The slippery slope fallacy is the idea that one occasion will result in a particular consequence, or that two distinct occasions should be dealt with the identical method due to an overlapping attribute, whatever the presence of knowledge to assist this declare. 

How does the slippery slope fallacy work?

The slippery slope fallacy works by creating an assumed relationship between two or extra occasions. For instance, an arguer may declare that constructing new cellphone towers will disorient birds, which can result in insect infestations as a result of an absence of predators for them. 

What are the totally different sorts of slippery slope fallacies?

  • Causal slippery slope fallacy
  • Precedential slippery slope fallacy
  • Conceptual slippery slope fallacy
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