Tuesday, January 17, 2012

All-Natural (Red Herrings Part 22)

Part 22 of Red Herrings covers still more responses to arguments that distract from the argument rather than address it directly. This week, the appeal to nature.

Appeal to Nature

There’s nothing inherently wrong in appealing to nature as part of an argument, but it becomes a red herring logical fallacy when it turns into an unwarranted assumption. The form of the logical fallacy is:

N is natural.
Therefore, N is good or right. 
U is unnatural.
Therefore, U is bad or wrong.

A medicine made with “all natural” ingredients could well contain arsenic and uranium, which hardly qualify as safe. The definition of “natural” itself can be twisted using judgmental language, which you’ll see in various arguments against homosexuality.

But that’s just a load of santorum.

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