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Appeal to Accomplishment

(also known as: appeal to success)

Description: When the argument being made is sheltered from criticism based on the level of accomplishment of the one making the argument.  A form of this fallacy also occurs when arguments are evaluated on the accomplishments, or success, of the person making the argument, rather than on the merits of the argument itself.

Logical Forms:

Person 1 claims that Y is true.

Person 1 is very accomplished.

Therefore, Y is true.

 

Person 1 presents evidence against claim Y.

Person 1 is told to shut up until person 1 becomes as accomplished as person 2.

Example #1:

I have been around the block many times, and I have had my share of success.  So believe me when I tell you that there is no better hobby than cat-juggling.

Explanation: We can all admire accomplishment and success, but this is irrelevant to cat-juggling.  There are many accomplished and successful people who are immoral, mean, insensitive, hateful, liars,  miserable, and just plain wrong about a great many things.

Example #2:

I hold a doctorate in theology, have written 12 books, and personally met the Pope.  Therefore, when I say that Jesus’ favorite snack was raisins dipped in wine, you should believe me.

Explanation: While the credentials of the one making the statement are certainly impressive, in no way do these credentials lend credibility to the belief that Jesus’ favorite snack was wine-dipped raisins.

Exception: When one’s accomplishments are directly related to the argument, it is more meaningful.

I have been around the block many times, and I have had my share of success in real estate.  So believe me when I tell you that, if you know what you are doing, real estate can be a great way to make a great living.

Tip: Many successful people attempt to use their success as a wildcard to be an authority on everything.  Don’t allow one’s own success to cloud your judgment of the claims they are making.  Evaluate the evidence above all else.

References:

This a logical fallacy frequently used on the Internet. No academic sources could be found.



Registered User Comments

logical
Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 02:40:13 PM
the argument which is made in "Exception" should be reconsidered !

When one’s accomplishments are directly related to the argument, it is more meaningful.
Being meaningful doesn't mean it is true.
There were many military generals(like Napoleon Bonaparte) whom their accomplishments are directly related to the argument but their decisions were false.
so being meaningful couldn't be a sufficient reason to be written on exception part of this fallacy.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 03:35:14 PM
What you say is correct - being meaningful doesn't mean it is true. "Meaningful" in this sense refers to the how much one's accomplishments means in determining the truthfulness of the claim. The claim that "real estate is a great way to making a living" should still be evaluated on its own merits, but the fact that the person making that claim is accomplished in that area lends credibility to the claim itself. A more clear exception example might be "One can climb Mt. Everest without oxygen. I've done it myself four times." Unless you have a reason to think the person is a liar, their accomplishment as it relates to the claim being made, means more (i.e., should be given extra weight to the point where it is no longer fallacious). In this case, if the person is being honest, their accomplishment directly validates their claim.

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logical
Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 06:24:17 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
one's accomplishments means in determining the truthfulness of the claim
Determining the truthfulness is not being true!

but the fact that the person making that claim is accomplished in that area lends credibility to the claim itself.

A credible claim isn't necessarily a true claim.

In respond to mountain climber , Indigenous people can say : "One cant climb Mt. Everest without oxygen. I've seen it myself four times they died."

(ofcourse claims of both climber and people are missing the quantifier : no-one,someone or everyone)

in this case, if the person is being honest, their accomplishment directly validates their claim.

the logical validity of an argument is a function of its internal consistency, not the truth value of its premises.

So , respectfully i believe when something is written in exception part of a fallacy , it should be true not just valid.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 08:11:57 PM
@logical: You are confusing deductive/formal arguments with informal logical fallacies. This fallacy is an informal fallacy. We are using "validate" in an informal context here. The rules of informal fallacies are very different from formal ones. Informal fallacies don't deal with the truth of the claim; they deal with reasoning. Have a look at this page https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/5/Introduction.

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logical
Sunday, February 26, 2017 - 01:34:02 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: it seems terminologies are confused.
validity is the term which is used for deductive argument

We are using "validate" in an informal context here.

so above claim is wrong.
we can validate deductive argument or evaluate strength of inductive one and truth/fault of an analogy.

so when you are defending informal falacy with formal terms , I answered you in the same way.

but if we look at informal fallacies the below claims is false dilemma

Unless you have a reason to think the person is a liar

climber can be honest , but still be wrong.for example he could mistaken the mountain .
as Christopher Columbus thought America (specifically Bahama) is India.

He accomplished the way for many times , he was honest and until the end of his life he was assertive on what he claimed.

but HE WAS WRONG.

I will appeal to force if you refuse the last sentence :)

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Sunday, February 26, 2017 - 02:06:00 PM
Again, informal fallacies are not about truth, they are about reason.

Person 1: It is impossible to climb Mt. Everest without oxygen (as in supplemental oxygen).

Person 2: Actually, it is possible. I know this because I did four times.

In this case, Person 2 is using their own accomplishment as the evidence for the claim. A) this is NOT unreasonable for Person 2 to respond this way and B) it is NOT unreasonable for Person 1 to provisionally accept the claim based on the accomplishment. Sure, Person 2 can be lying, living in the Matrix, on drugs, mistaken, etc. The reasonableness of accepting the claim is based on how extraordinary the claim is.

We cannot put informal fallacies in yes fallacy or no fallacy boxes. Each claim is different and takes critical thought. Calling "fallacy" too much also makes one unreasonable. The bottom line is that there IS an exception to this fallacy and it is when one’s accomplishments are directly related to the argument. I stand behind the "is more meaningful" because that implies that this is not a binary rule.

I hope we are done here. I feel like I am just restating myself.

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