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Confusing an Explanation with an Excuse

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Description: Treating an explanation of a fact as if it were a justification of the fact, a valid reason for the fact, or evidence for the fact.

Logical Form:

X is asked to be justified.

X is explained in detail.

Therefore, X is justified.

Example #1:

Mrs. Crabtree: Your child, Mrs. Martin, is rude to me and shows me no respect.

Mrs. Martin: That’s because he thinks you are a “poo-poo faced bag lady who hates little kids”.

Mrs. Crabtree: That is no excuse for his behavior!

Mrs. Martin: No, it’s just a fact.

Explanation: In this case, Mrs. Crabtree committed the fallacy by incorrectly thinking Mrs. Martin’s fact was meant to be a justification, when it was not.

Example #2:

Virgil: How do you justify the claim that Bigfoot is the missing link between the great apes and humans?

Marshall: Well, a "missing link" is the intermediary species between the two in the evolutionary process.

Explanation: Marshall simply explained what a missing link is; he did not give a valid reason for why he believes that Bigfoot is the missing link.

Exception: If it is clear to both parties that no justification attempt is being made, but rather just stating a fact, then this fallacy is not being committed.

Tip: If you are unsure if someone is trying to make an excuse or simply stating a fact, ask them.  Don’t assume.



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