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Appeal to Self-evident Truth

Description: Making the claim that something is "self-evident" when it is not self-evident in place of arguing a claim with reason. In everyday terms, something is "self-evident" when understanding what it means immediately results in knowing that it is true, such as 2+2=4. The concept of self-evidence is contentions and argued among philosophers based on their ideas of epistemology. This means that what is "self-evident" to one person is not necessarily self-evident to another. However, some ideas are clearly self-evident and some are not.

Logical Form:

Person 1 claims Y without evidence.

Person 2 asks for evidence.

Person 1 claims that Y is self-evident.

Example #1:

Richie: Lord Xylon is the one true ruler of the universe.

Toby: Why do you think that?

Richie: It is self-evident.

Explanation: People often confuse their own subjective feelings and interpretations with self-evidence. Richie may believe that Lord Xylon is the one true ruler of the universe, but his belief cannot be used in place of evidence.

Example #2:

Sara: No human should ever kill another human being.

Dottie: Why not?

Sara: It's self-evident.

Explanation: The fallacy is in the implied claim that the argument needs no evidence or explanation because it is "self-evident."

Tip: If you can't explain something, that doesn't mean you are dealing with something that is self-evident; it could just be your failure to explain something.

References:

This a logical fallacy frequently used on the Internet. No academic sources could be found. For the concept of self-evidence, the following reference was used:

Kelly, T. (2016). Evidence. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/evidence/



Registered User Comments

Krista Neckles
Wednesday, June 06, 2018 - 06:26:12 PM
Hello Sir,

Would it be correct for me to say that the appeal to self-evident truth fallacy is an example of the alleged certainty fallacy? I apologize for asking you so much questions. You have mentioned so many fallacies I want to make sure that I am getting this right.

Thank You.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Thursday, June 07, 2018 - 05:45:36 AM
They are very similar. Remember that the names of informal fallacies are not important, neither are any kind of categories or hierarchy. What is important is that one understands why reasoning is flawed in each fallacy. So I would not bother devoting time to questions like this ;)

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Krista Neckles
Thursday, June 07, 2018 - 06:32:02 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you Sir! On another note I often hear this: A celebrity complains that they do not have enough privacy. Some people say "that comes with the territory of being famous, what do you expect?" Who commits the fallacy here? What do you think about thise arguments?

Thanks again!

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, June 08, 2018 - 05:57:08 AM
@Krista Neckles: No fallacy.

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Krista Neckles
Friday, June 08, 2018 - 09:26:30 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Hello Sir,

Do you mean that the celebrity did not commit the falllacy, or that the critic didn't commit the fallacy?

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, June 08, 2018 - 10:05:00 AM
@Krista Neckles: neither

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