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Description: Interpreting a token gesture as an adequate substitute for the real thing.

Example #1:

The presidential nominee has been accused of being racist.  But he recently stated that he really liked the movie, “Roots,” so I guess he isn’t racist.

Explanation: Liking one movie that exposes racism and encourages equality, is far from the same as not being a racist.

Example #2:

Mr. McBoss' company consists of 50 executives who are all men, and 50 secretaries who are all women.  To show he is all about equal opportunity, he has agreed to hire a woman executive.

Explanation: This "token" gesture does not come close to making up for the disproportionate hiring practices of Mr. McBoss' company.

Exception: If a token gesture is seen as a token, and not as an adequate substitute, it is not a fallacy.

I know I have a weight problem, and I am trying.  So far, I have replaced my usual breakfast of doughnuts with a single grapefruit.


Cogan, R. (1998). Critical Thinking: Step by Step. University Press of America.

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