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Righteousness Fallacy

Description: Assuming that just because a person's intentions are good, they have the truth or facts on their side. Also see self-righteousness fallacy.

Logical Form:

Person 1 made claim X.

Person 1 has good intentions.

Therefore, X is true.

Example #1:

Ricki: Do you think aborted fetuses have feelings?

Jenni: I follow the lead of my grandmother who is the most honorable and kind person I know. She says they do have feelings.

Explanation: Jenni's grandmother might be the queen of honor with kindness oozing from her orthopedic shoes, but these qualities are independent of one's ability to know facts or come to an accurate conclusion based on available data.

Example #2:

The president wants to bomb that country because he thinks they are preparing to launch a nuclear attack against us. I know the president wants to do the right thing for the good of the American people, so if he says there have nukes, they have nukes!

Explanation: The good intentions of the president are separate from the president's ability to get solid intelligence on foreign affairs. If we are convinced of the president's good intentions, the best we can do is claim that we believe that the president believes he is doing the right thing.

Exception: This relates to facts, not subjective truth. We can use the idea of righteousness to conclude how we feel about a person.

References:

This is an original logical fallacy named by the author.



Registered User Comments

Bakakurisu
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 06:18:27 AM
Example 3:
PRO-LIFE PERSON:
"How do you feel about about supporting the killing of innocent human beings?"

PRO-ABORTION PERSON:
"I support a woman's right to choose, so my support of abortion can't possibly be support of something so heinous."

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 06:57:43 AM
@Bakakurisu : First, your claim about the slogan was not in your original example. Second, regardless of where the belief came from, the pro-abortion person adopted is as their own belief in your example. If you want to change your example to

PRO-ABORTION PERSON:
"A bumper sticker I saw read 'I support a woman's right to choose", and bumper stickers have good intentions, so..."

Then we are getting somewhere.

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Bakakurisu
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 06:59:30 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
If you called this "righteousness by proxy" fallacy, you might have a case.

...But if you distinguish "righteous fallacy" from "self-righteous fallacy", then "self-righteous" would be the argument like "I'm righteous, therefore you're wrong."

My example does not suit this.

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Bakakurisu
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:03:16 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
At no point in my example did the pro-abortion person say "I have adopted the slogan as my own." He's pointing to an idealized slogan - he is in no way saying that HE is righteous.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:07:53 AM
@Bakakurisu : Just so I understand you, who are you claiming the pro-abortion is suggesting is righteous then if not themselves?

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Bakakurisu
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:15:28 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
The pro-abortion person is referring to the slogan - not himself. That is the point. He is pointing to an idea - not his own credibility or moral standing.

By your 'reasoning', an example of a "self-righteous fallacy" would be constructed as follows:

"I believe in a woman's right to choose because I saw it on a bumper-sticker, and I am really good at deciding which bumper-stickers are correct, therefore I'm right."

The pro-abortion person in my original example is not hinging on his OWN righteousness, but the righteousness of a phrase.

Let's try sticking some inverted commas into it, if it pleases the court:

"I support 'a woman's right to choose', therefore my support of abortion can't possibly be so heinous."

It's the "woman's right to choose" that he is exalting - not his own morality.

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Bakakurisu
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:16:40 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
Again - he is pointing to "a woman's right to choose" being righteous - not himself.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:21:45 AM
@Bakakurisu : A quick review of the definition of this fallacy "Assuming that just because a person's intentions are good, they have the truth or facts on their side."

A bumper sticker is not a person, nor is an idea or ideology, so this still would not fit. (I know I suggested bumper sticker in an earlier comment, but that was incorrect).

An example of the self-righteousness fallacy would be:

"I believe in a woman's right to choose. My intentions are good, Therefore I'm right."

An example of the righteousness fallacy would be:

"My grandmother says that a woman has a right to choose. Her intentions are good, Therefore she's right."

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Bakakurisu
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:32:55 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD:
Good work on moving the goalposts. You leftists sure love your ad hoc! :)

A bumper-sticker slogan is written by a person. An ideology is conceived by a person. You are clutching at straws to defend a misnomer. The example I gave was an appeal to 'righteousness' - an ideal conceived by another person. If you really want to quibble, "Jenni" didn't explicitly state that she concludes that "fetuses have feelings" (a petty strawman, if presented as a dig at pro-lifers) simply because her grandma said so - she adopted the belief as her own because of her own respect for her grandmother. She didn't say outright that "fetuses have feelings because her grandmother said so."

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:36:21 AM
@Bakakurisu : I am sorry Bakakurisu, but I clearly am not explaining this well. I don't think we are getting anywhere so I have to leave it here.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Sunday, July 28, 2019 - 07:45:39 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: I should add that you can (and should) post your proposed fallacy example on our discussion forum at https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/qa/Bo/LogicalFallacies and see what the community thinks. If I am missing something, they will pick up on it. Thanks for your comments!

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Steve
Friday, January 11, 2019 - 02:52:39 PM
The examples for this fallacy and many others on this website are blatantly biased, especially anti-religion, and poor in general. It illustrates that the authors of this website fall victim to what they preach and why people can't trust the internet.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, January 11, 2019 - 03:02:48 PM
Hi Steve,

I do my best to include examples with liberal/conservative/religious/non-religious positions. I spent many years arguing with fundamentalist Christians, so my database of fallacious arguments more heavily leans in that direction. In no way does this make the examples "poor" in that they all exemplify the fallacy named. None of my work is fallacious (i.e., what I "preach") and I invite you to provide one example where I am committing a fallacy (not purposely as in every single example).

I agree with you on one point; people can't "trust the internet," but I am making no such request. The content in this site and in this book has been well vetted and is to academic sources when available. This site is about giving people the tools to know what they can trust and what they can't. If you already made up your mind that you can't trust the information on this site because some examples you read seemed to go against your sacred beliefs, then you need the information on this site more than you know.

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