Description: An argument of claim in which two completely opposing arguments appear to be logically equivalent when in fact they are not. The confusion is often due to one shared characteristic between two or more items of comparison in the argument that is way off in the order of magnitude, oversimplified, or just that important additional factors have been ignored.
Thing 1 and thing 2 both share characteristic A.
Therefore, things 1 and 2 are equal.
President Petutti ordered a military strike that killed many civilians. He is no different than any other mass murder and he belongs in prison!
Explanation: Both president Petutti and a mass murder share the characteristic that something they did resulted in the death of civilians. However, the circumstances, the level of responsibility, and the intent are significantly different for the president than the typical mass murder and ignoring these factors is unreasonable, thus makes the argument fallacious.
Example #2: Using the second amendment as justification to allow civilians to own nuclear submarines.
Explanation: In this case, the first "thing" is the weapon as understood at the time the second amendment was passed. The second "thing" of comparison is the nuclear submarine, also a weapon, but one of significantly different magnitude. This example also introduces the difference between a legal justification and an argumentative one (see Appeal to the Law).
Exception: Like most fallacies, this is one of degree rather than kind. The order of magnitude can be debated. Some may exaggerate this order of magnitude claiming a fallacy where it would be unreasonable to do so.
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:
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.