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Protests: Denial of Association

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As discussed in an earlier essay, it is tempting to define a group you do not like by the worst people associated with it—this can easily lead to committing the fallacy of guilt by association. To illustrate, those on the left will be tempted to see the lock down protesters as racist because some associated with the protests have openly displayed racist symbols. Those on the right will be tempted to see those protesting police violence as violent and destructive because some associated with the protests have engaged in violence and vandalism. Not surprisingly, there is an equal temptation: to refuse to acknowledge bad elements of groups one likes. Giving in to this temptation can result in committing a version of the purity fallacy which could be called the Denial of Association. This version of the fallacy occurs when a negative claim about a group based on certain members is rejected by asserting, without adequate support, that the alleged members are not true members of the group. The fallacy is also known as the No True Scotsman fallacy thanks to the philosopher Anthony Flew. For example, if a 2nd Amendment rights group is accused of being racist, they might simply assert that those displaying racist symbols at their events were not members of their group. This version of the fallacy has the following form:   Premise 1: Negative claim P has been made about group G based on M members of G. Premise 2: It is claimed, without support, that the members of M are not true members of G. Conclusion: Claim P is false.   This reasoning is fallacious because simply asserting that problematic alleged members are not true members does not prove that the claim is not true about the group. As always, it is important to remember that fallacious reasoning does not entail that the conclusion is false. A group’s defender could commit this fallacy while their conclusion is correct; they would have simply failed to give a good reason to accept their claim. Like many. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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