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Appeal to Nature

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Argumentum ad Naturam

Description: When used as a fallacy, the belief or suggestion that “natural” is always better than “unnatural”.  Many people adopt this as a default belief.

The appeal to nature fallacy should not be confused with the naturalistic fallacy.  Through confused online sources, the two have become synonymous, but if you want to impress your friends, insist that the two are very different and tell them why.

Logical Form:

X is natural.

Y is not natural.

Therefore, X is better than Y.

Example #1:

I shop at Natural Happy Sunshine Store (NHSS), which is much better than your grocery store, because at NHSS everything is natural including the 38 year old store manager’s long grey hair and saggy breasts.

Explanation: I can appreciate natural food and products as much as the next granola-eating guy, but to make any claim of “betterness”, one needs to establish criteria by which to judge.  Perhaps not paying almost twice as much for the same general foods is “better” for me.  Perhaps I prefer a little insecticide on my apple to insects inside my apple, and maybe I like faux brunettes with perky breasts due to “unnatural” bra support.

Natural is not always “better”.

Example #2:

Cocaine is all natural; therefore, it is good for you.

Explanation: There are a very many things in this world that are “all natural” and very bad for you besides cocaine, including, earthquakes, monsoons and viruses, just to name a few.  Whereas “unnatural” things such as aspirin, pacemakers, and surgery can be very good things.

Exception: There are many natural things that are better than unnatural, but they must be evaluated based on other criteria besides the “naturalness”.

Tip: Keep in mind that Mother Nature is the kind of mother who wouldn’t hesitate to throw you in a dumpster and leave you there to die.



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