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Rationalization

(also known as: making excuses)

Description: Offering false or inauthentic excuses for our claim because we know the real reasons are much less persuasive or more embarrassing to share, or harsher than the manufactured ones given.

Logical Form:

Reason A is given for claim B, although reason A is not the real reason.

Example #1:

I can’t go with you to that opera because I have a deadline at work coming up, plus I need to wash my hair that night.

Explanation: The real reason is, “I don’t want to go”, but that might hurt some feelings, so manufactured reasons (excuses) are given in place of the authentic and honest reason.

Example #2:

I believe in winged horses because the Koran is historically accurate and would never get such an important fact wrong.

Explanation: The person actually believes in winged horses out of faith, but recognizes that is not a persuasive argument -- especially to the non-believer of Islam.  Out of the desire to hold on to his faith, he adopts a common defense (historical accuracy) and gives that as the reason.

Exception: Is it acceptable to rationalize to protect someone’s feelings?  I will leave that to you to answer, realizing that all situations are unique.

Tip: Whenever possible, give honest reasons stated in diplomatic ways.

References:

Fallacies | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/#Rationalization

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