Critical Thinking: Fallacies from Relevance VII
Fallacies from Relevance
A fallacy from relevance occurs when the response to a conclusion or an argument is not relevant to the conclusion or argument. These are fallacies that ignore the point at hand and attempt to derail the argument by bringing irrelevancies into the arena of the debate. In this post, I will discuss the Moralistic Fallacy.
The moralistic fallacy is the opposite of the naturalistic fallacy. The naturalistic fallacy moves from descriptions of how things are to statements of how things ought to be. The moralistic fallacy does the reverse. The moralistic fallacy moves from statements about how things ought to be to statements about how things are. This assumes that the world is as it should be. Sadly, this is a fallacy because it is a common sense truth that things sometimes aren’t as they ought to be.
Have you ever crossed a one-way street without looking in both directions? If you have, reasoning that people ought not drive the wrong way direction on a one way street so therefore you are in no danger from that direction, then you’ve committed the moralistic fallacy.
- People ought not drive the wrong way up a one-way street.
- (Therefore) I can safely cross the street without looking both ways.
Sometimes people drive in directions that they shouldn’t. The rules of the road don’t necessarily describe actual driving practices. Sometimes things aren’t as they ought to be. Sometimes, the way things ought to be does not describe reality.
Recognizing truth is an essential survival tool for the mind, and ultimately, for the soul. It is vital that believers weigh the so-called “wisdom” of the world on the perfect scale of authoritative scripture. (I Corinthians 1:19-21)
Teaching our children the ability to recognize fallacies of this type, giving them the intellectual skill to deconstruct these types of arguments, will ensure that the arguments they, themselves, will one day make are at least valid and thoughtfully arrived upon. It will also assist them to investigate more deeply into the conclusions espoused by those in the world whose motives might not come from love and might not have been very carefully arrived at or well researched.
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