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Appeal to Purity Fallacy

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Time to put out another fallacy collection; my goal is to include all major fallacies in this upcoming book. Here is my write up of the Appeal to Purity Fallacy; also known as the No True Scotsman fallacy.This fallacy occurs when there is an attempt to protect a generalization about a group from a counterexample by changing the definition of the group in an unprincipled way to exclude the counterexample. This is a fallacy because the tactic does not refute the counterexample, but merely it asserts does not apply.  The fallacy is also known as the No True Scotsman fallacy thanks to the philosopher Anthony Flew. The fallacy has the following form: Premise 1: Counterexample E has been made against Claim C about group G. Premise 2: Counterexample E does not apply to any true member of group G. Conclusion: C is true (and E is false). Like many fallacies, it draws its persuasive power primarily from psychological factors. A member of the group in question or someone who has a favorable view of the group would have a psychological, but not logical, reason to reject the counterexample. Few are willing to believe negative things about groups they like or identify with. In Flew’s example, a Scotsman refuses to believe a story about the bad behavior of other Scotsmen on the grounds that no true Scotsman would do such things. People can also reject such a counterexample on pragmatic grounds, such as when doing so would provide a political advantage. The fallacy can also be used in the opposite way—to reject positive counterexamples about negative claims. For example, if someone claims that all video games are senselessly violent and rejects counterexamples of non-violent video games, then they are committing this fallacy. This variation is also fueled by psychological factors, in this case negative ones: a person dislikes the group in question and hence is motivated to reject positive counterexamples against negative claims. This can also be done for pragmatic. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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