Accused of a fallacy? Suspect a fallacy? Ask Dr. Bo and the community!

Quickly register to comment, ask and respond to questions, and get FREE access to our passive online course on cognitive biases!
Register!

one moment please...



Reductio ad Hitlerum

reductio ad hitlerum

(also known as: argumentum ad Hitlerum, playing the Nazi card, Hitler card)

Description: The attempt to make an argument analogous with Hitler or the Nazi party.  Hitler is probably the most universally despised figure in history, so any connection to Hitler, or his beliefs, can (erroneously) cause others to view the argument in a similar light.  However, this fallacy is becoming more well known as is the fact that it is most often a desperate attempt to render the truth claim of the argument invalid out of lack of a good counter argument.

Logical Forms:

Person 1 suggests that Y is true.

Hitler liked Y.

Therefore, Y is false.

 

Person 1 suggests that Y is true.

Person 1’s rhetoric sounds a bit like Hitler’s.

Therefore, Y is false.

Example #1:

Peter Gibbons: It's NOT wrong. INITECH is wrong. INITECH is an evil corporation, all right? Chochkies is wrong. Doesn't it bother you that you have to get up in the morning and you have to put on a bunch of pieces of flair?

Joanna: Yeah, but I'm not about to go in and start taking money from the register.

Peter Gibbons: Well, maybe you should. You know, the Nazis had pieces of flair that they made the Jews wear.

Joanna: What?

Explanation: The above was from the classic masterpiece film, Office Space.  Out of desperation, Peter plays the "Nazi card" in order to make the idea of being made to wear flair more appalling.  This somewhat jarring statement misdirects the argument, and the focus is taken off Joanna’s last response, which was quite good.

Example #2:

The God of the Old Testament was big into religious cleansing.  Hitler was big into ethnic cleansing.  Therefore, God is like Hitler.

Explanation: It wouldn't even matter if God had a swastika tattooed to his forehead.  The moment one compares anyone to Hitler, they have shown that they are desperate.

Exception: Sometimes it might be worth risking the fallacy to prevent disaster.

Mr. President, I can appreciate your desire to make some changes in the White House, but that new hand gesture you are proposing we use to show our allegiance to you is way too much like the one Hitler used.  On a similar note, that Charlie Chaplin mustache doesn’t work on you.

References:

Strauss, L. (1953). Natural Right and History. University of Chicago Press.


Registered User Comments

Richard Tufts
Monday, July 24, 2017 - 05:13:34 PM
Wasn't this fallacy once known as something to the tune of "argumentum ad Napoleum"?

login to reply
2 replies
0 votes
 
Reply To Comment
working...
 

Bo Bennett, PhD
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 06:14:12 AM
If you are being serious, I never heard of that before. If you are joking, good one! :) It does make sense that the basis of this fallacy preexisted Hitler... and Napoleon for that matter. Heck, people have been committing the "Ad Satanum" for millennia!

login to reply
 
1 votes
 
Reply To Comment
working...
 

Richard Tufts
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 - 02:58:27 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Actually, no. I'm not joking. I heard from Professor Michael Drout of Wheaton College that it was, apparently, "Argumentum ad Napoleum" before Hitler.

Pretty much the whole "Oh yeah? Know who liked (x)? THIS GUY WHO IS BAD. Therefore the thing you're arguing in favour of is bad." fallacy.

At least, that is how Professor Drout broke it down in his lesson. It was a series on rhetoric, and one of the classes was dedicated to Logical Fallacies.

login to reply
 
0 votes
 
Reply To Comment
working...

Joe Walker
Saturday, January 21, 2017 - 03:27:35 PM
Using Hitler to show subjective moral values is using this fallacy (?) - example, the Nuremberg trials invoked objective moral values in order to prosecute his staff because if they were only following orders from their individual state (Germany) - (if only subjective moral values exist) then they should not be held accountable (that was their argument), of course we used objective moral values to prove their guilt and won. Or could this be an exception.

login to reply
1 reply
0 votes
 
Reply To Comment
working...
 

Bo Bennett, PhD
Saturday, January 21, 2017 - 03:36:32 PM
This would only show that Hitler was a less valid source of morality than another source. No objectivity needed in this case.

login to reply
 
0 votes
 
Reply To Comment
working...


Become a Logical Fallacy Master. Choose Your Poison.

Logically Fallacious is one of the most comprehensive collections of logical fallacies with all original examples and easy to understand descriptions; perfect for educators, debaters, or anyone who wants to improve his or her reasoning skills.

Get the book, Logically Fallacious by Bo Bennett, PhD by selecting one of the following options:


Not Much of a Reader? No Problem!

Enroll in the Mastering Logical Fallacies Online Course. Over 10 hours of video and interactive learning. Go beyond the book!

Enroll in the Fallacy-A-Day Passive Course. Sit back and learn fallacies the easy way—in just a few minutes per day, via e-mail delivery.

Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.


About Archieboy Holdings, LLC. Privacy Policy Other Books Written by Bo
 Copyright 2017, Archieboy Holdings, LLC.