Question

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Rationalissimo

Retrogressive Extrapolation in a Controversial Debate

I've seen this argument many, many times. Effectively, someone will express opposition to an economic, political or social (usually social) movement. They will then the informed that in the past, people also opposed a given social movement, and were later proven wrong. This is then sometimes used to defend the given movement from criticism, or to attack it directly by suggesting that the person might be on the 'wrong side of history'.

Example:

Valerie: You know, I'm getting really tired of this 'cancel culture' stuff. Every day, it seems like someone is cancelled. I'm against it.

Hugh: In the past, people said the same thing about racial integration and mixed marriages, and they were wrong. For you to make a comment like this raises questions about where you would stand on those issues.

Let's parse this.

Valerie starts out by decrying what she considers to be a culture of self-censorship and silencing. Hugh then diverts the conversation to something different (Red Herring). He then suggests that Valerie may not have had very progressive views on that 'something' at the time it was still considered an issue. Effectively, he claims that, had she been alive in 1960s America for instance, during integration, she may have opposed it (Hypothesis Contrary to Fact) - because she opposes cancel culture, which he probably sees as a movement for the liberation of marginalised groups by allowing them to directly call out bigotry and bullying (Non Sequitur).

Is my analysis accurate here?

 

asked on Friday, Jul 24, 2020 09:34:27 PM by Rationalissimo

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Answers

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Bo Bennett, PhD
3

I see a similarity to the Galileo Fallacy . Out of all the views expressed in the past, only a few turned out to be the "right side of history." What Hugh is doing is assuming that the issue raised will be one of those issues. We can also see a problem with the form of this implied argument:

X (cancel culture) is part of Y (controversial/political issues).
Some Y (controversial/political issues) is part of Z (right side of history).
Therefore, X (cancel culture) is part of Z (right side of history).

I should know the formal fallacy name here, but I can't find it right now. Of course, we can always call it a Non Sequitur .

answered on Saturday, Jul 25, 2020 07:09:32 AM by Bo Bennett, PhD

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mchasewalker
3

Valerie starts out by decrying what she considers to be a culture of self-censorship and silencing.

Not really. Valerie decries cancel culture and the politically correct silencing of subversive or controversial views. She simply states she's against it.

Self-censorship is not an issue, but something else entirely.

Hugh... suggests that Valerie may not have had very progressive views on that 'something' at the time it was still considered an issue.

Strawman/non-sequitur argument. 

Valerie made no other claim except that she was against cancel culture.

Hugh's faux tu quoque argument falls apart by tying it to an argument or past scenario that Valerie never made in the first place.

answered on Saturday, Jul 25, 2020 12:00:04 AM by mchasewalker

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skips777
2

cancel culture, which he probably sees as a movement for the liberation of marginalised groups by allowing them to directly call out bigotry and bullying 

Not all "cancel culture" bullshit is "bigotry and bullying".....this might be seen as cherry picking or maybe argument from ambiguity based opinions of what constitutes "bullying".

 

answered on Sunday, Jul 26, 2020 05:55:23 AM by skips777

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