Description: Applying standards, principles, and/or rules to other people or circumstances, while making oneself or certain circumstances exempt from the same critical criteria, without providing adequate justification. Special pleading is often a result of strong emotional beliefs that interfere with reason.
Yes, I do think that all drunk drivers should go to prison, but your honor, he is my son! He is a good boy who just made a mistake!
Explanation: The mother in this example has applied the rule that all drunk drivers should go to prison. However, due to her emotional attachment to her son, she is fallaciously reasoning that he should be exempt from this rule, because, “he is a good boy who just made a mistake”, which would hardly be considered adequate justification for exclusion from the rule.
Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation -- unless it is written in the Bible, then it is reasonable faith.
Explanation: It has been said that one’s superstition is another’s faith. The standard of superstition has been defined by the person, and violated by the Bible (attributing God and demons as the cause of natural phenomenon). But while the person in the example rejects all other holy books and sources of superstition using certain criteria, the book of their choice, the Bible, is exempt from these criteria.
Many non-Catholic Christians take offense in the superstitions of the Catholics, like priests thinking they can turn wine into the literal blood of Jesus Christ, yet have no problem with believing that pouring water over the head, while making a few cantations, “washes away” original sin. This is special pleading.
Exception: “Adequate justification” is subjective, and can be argued.
Tip: If you are accused of special pleading, take time to honestly consider if the accusation is warranted. This is a fallacy that is easy to spot when others make it, yet difficult to spot when we make it.