Slippery Slope

Is there such a thing as a “slippery slope”?

In debate or rhetoric, a slippery slope (also the thin edge of the wedge or the camel’s nose) is a classical informal fallacy. A slippery slope argument states that a relatively small first step inevitably leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant impact, much like an object given a small push over the edge of a slope sliding all the way to the bottom.[1] The fallacious sense of "slippery slope" is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B.

~ Wikepedia Slippery slope. (n.d.). Retrieved 16 June 2009, from Wikipedia:

It is listed as a “fallacy”, and it is often referred to as such online.  However, does that make it wrong?

First off, notice also this entry at Wikipedia:

Modern usage includes a logically valid form, in which a minor action causes a significant impact through a long chain of logical relationships. Note that establishing this chain of logical implication (or quantifying the relevant probabilities) makes this form logically valid. The slippery slope argument is only a fallacy if such a chain is not established.

~ ibid.

So, you have to be careful in the usage of a slippery slope type of argument.

Yet, even if it isn’t logically connected, that does not make it necessarily wrong.  Logic simply is a type of argumentation building facts in a way that makes sense.  It helps to divorce, or at least reduce, the emotion involved and keep it on a factual basis.  Just because it is not logical doesn’t mean it is wrong.

More to the point, human beings aren’t always logical, so you cannot necessarily discard absurdities.

And, so, that is my long-winded way of introducing yet another example of someone demanding their “rights”, whether or not it impinges upon someone else’s rights.

MSNBC reported on 8 June 2009 that “Gardening nudists claim discrimination”.  Yes, that’s right.  A couple of nudists allege “landlord is wrongly trying to get them to cover up”.

You know, it isn’t like there were nudist colonies or anything where they could go, so they just have to do it right in the middle of a suburb of Boulder.

Give some people an inch, and they’ll take a mile.  Oh, wait!  That’s probably a fallacy as well!

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Comments are closed.