Tag Archives: believer’s baptism

Fallacy Files #4: False Dichotomy in the Baptism Debate

The informal fallacy of false dichotomy (or false dilemma) is committed when two options are mistakenly or misleadingly presented as the only two possible or viable options. George W. Bush famously declared after 9/11, “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” Whatever the rhetorical merits of his statement, it was, strictly speaking, an example of false dichotomy. There was no obvious logical inconsistency in adopting a position that neither supported nor hindered the Bush administration’s anti-terror policies. (Bush’s statement echoed Jesus’ even more provocative claim, but I would argue that in Jesus’ case there was no false dichotomy. As analytic philosophers would say, with typical understatement, George W. Bush and Jesus are “relevantly different”.)

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Fallacy Files #3: Confused Conditionals

One common logical fallacy is known as ‘affirming the consequent’. Arguments that commit this fallacy have this general form:

If P then Q.

Q.

Therefore P.

(In technical terminology, P is the antecedent of the first, conditional premise and Q is the consequent of that premise. The second premise of the argument affirms the consequent of the first premise rather than its antecedent; hence the fallacy of ‘affirming the consequent’.)

It isn’t difficult to see that such arguments are fallacious, as this example makes plain:

If Bob lives in Chicago then Bob lives in America.

Bob lives in America.

Therefore Bob lives in Chicago.

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