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Genetic Fallacy

(also known as: fallacy of origins, fallacy of virtue)

Description: Basing the truth claim of an argument on the origin of its claims or premises.

Logical Form:

The origin of the claim is presented.

Therefore, the claim is true/false.

Example #1:

Lisa was brainwashed as a child into thinking that people are generally good.  Therefore, people are not generally good.

Explanation: That fact that Lisa may have been brainwashed as a child, is irrelevant to the claim that people are generally good.

Example #2:

He was born to Catholic parents and raised as a Catholic until his confirmation in 8th grade.  Therefore, he is bound to want to defend some Catholic traditions and, therefore, cannot be taken seriously.

Explanation: I am referring to myself here.  While my upbringing was Catholic, and I have long since considered myself a Catholic, that is irrelevant to any defenses I make of Catholicism -- like the fact that many local churches do focus on helping the community through charity work.  If I make an argument defending anything Catholic, the argument should be evaluated on the argument itself, not on the history of the one making the argument or how I came to hold the claims as true or false.

Exception: At times, the origin of the claim is relevant to the truth of the claim. 

I believe in closet monsters because my big sister told me unless I do whatever she tells me, the closet monsters will eat me.

References:

Engel, S. M., Soldan, A., & Durand, K. (2007). The Study of Philosophy. Rowman & Littlefield.



Registered User Comments

NJH
Sunday, December 10, 2017 - 09:49:25 PM
There seems to be two conclusions in here: "he is bound to want to defend some Catholic traditions and, therefore, cannot be taken seriously."
- The former, I would say, has a likelihood of following on from the premise ie Catholics tend to want to defend RC traditions (pace lapsed Catholics etc). The other is that Catholics cannot be taken seriously. And the latter is presented as following from the former, which is an opinion. It reads: "He is a Catholic (he is very Catholic}, so cannot be taken seriously."
It might be valid to say, however, that someone who is brainwashed and inculcated into a cult from an early age may display biases and faulty thinking that would disqualify him from being taken seriously. But you would still have to show your workings here: what specific thinking disqualifies him or her.

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Jay
Thursday, September 07, 2017 - 03:53:55 PM
Is this a genetic fallacy? The argument is that television is good for children, she states- Australians have the right to keep or do whatever they want in the privacy of their own homes, as long as it is legal. These rights are at the core of Australia's values and traditions. All true Australians must hope that Trumble's recommendations are not followed.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, September 08, 2017 - 10:07:35 AM
I see this as more of an opinion or perhaps a non-sequitur. It does not follow that because people can do whatever they want in their own homes as long as it's legal, then television is good for children. Good and legal are very different.

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