But if we let gays get married, we’ll have people wanting to marry their toaster
Ahh, the much flaunted “slippery slope” argument. When the evil twin of a valid deduction rears its ugly head in this way, I generally offer this analogous argument:
If people read the bible, they will then attempt to interpret its teachings. If people attempt to interpret its teachings, they will inevitably insert their own biases into their reading and corrupt the perfect word of god. Therefore, we should not allow anyone to read the bible ever again.
(This is actually similair to the argument made by the Catholic church which for centuries would not allow lay people to read a copy of the bible or to hear the Mass in a language they could understand.)
Funny thing is that back when I was just out of college we used to joke about all the stuff they were going to ban after cigarettes. Fat, sugar, and salt were among the things that were joked about as laughable to ban. Another thing that was joked about is that with transsexual operations the next thing we’d see is transpecies operations. Think you are a dog or snake and you’d get an operation to change species. That too came to pass with “lizard man” and “cat man”. We also joked that multiple ear piercings leading to bones in the nose, and plates in the lip. All came to pass. I’ve seen so many things come to pass based on the slippery slope fallacy jokes that I’m starting to think it’s not a very good fallacy.
Slippery slope arguments are predictions of the future, and they assert that the first event, if allowed, will by necessity cause the next, and that will by necessity cause the subsequent events down the slope. The fallacy is in the insistence on that causal chain. Some of the predicted events might come to pass whether the first event is allowed or not. For instance, “lizard man” and “cat man” could very probably have happened without anyone ever having had transsexual operations. The fallacy also relies on the predicted events being linked as the same category as the first. That is subjective in the mind of the person making the dire prediction. Disallowing a behavior does not guarantee the prevention of all sorts of other behaviors, because those other behaviors might be influenced by entirely different events that are not even being considered.
I’d buy slippery slope arguments of the form “This is a little bit bad. But we should care even though the immediate harm is small, because it will lead to something more bad.” Arguably, this isn’t even a slippery slope argument, as an essential premise is that the idea being discussed is a little bit bad in and of itself.
This is quite different from “I can’t find anything bad about the idea actually being discussed. But it’s damaging in an extreme form, thus I reject it in mild form.”
With issues of moderation (and these are most issues), the slippery slope argument is especially bad. Suppose we are a bit too far too the left. Moving a bit to the right would be good, while a slippery slope mode of “reasoning” will note that going way right is a bad idea.
Well then a lot of arguments I’ve heard characterized as slippery slope aren’t in fact slippery slope arguments. There is the issue of a precident. Once you set a precident that opens up the use of the same reasons to do additional things that are defensible on the same grounds. If you can ban people from smoking cigarettes on the grounds that the government has an interest because it has to pay for health care costs via some instituted program that same argument can be used elsewhere. Which is exactly how these joking predictions were done.
If the government can ban smoking for those reasons then the same exact reasons apply to a whole host of other things that are “bad for you”. It’s not really a prediction about what will actually come top pass, as you seem to think. Certainly a prediction that salt, sugar, and fat will be banned next is not part of the argument here. The argument is that if you do ban smoking on certain grounds then that means you have opened the door to other bans.
In this case it all depends on the kind of argument you are using to justify gay marriage. Some arguments may indeed naturally lead to the same answer with regards to marrying polygamy or marrying animals. Although it would be easy to modify any pro-gay marriage argument to include consent in a way it would exclude the potential to marry animals. Then again those who are arguing for heterosexual marriage and against homosexual marriage have their own arguments for the former practice that excludes the latter.
If they truly meant to make a slippery slope argument of the type you are claiming they are making then they’d be against heterosexual marriage because next thing you know the homosexuals will want to get married. 🙂
The fallacy here may be a meta-fallacy. Claiming that someone else’s argument amounts to a slippery slope argument, may itself be a straw man argument.
I agree, if I understood you correctly. Many times the argument is made without understanding for the underlying justification. I can’t, for example see anyone being so stupid as to make an argument for gay marriage that would lead one to marrying pets. So I’m not really objecting to the cartoon. I was more bringing up a side issue.
Had the cartoon used polygamy instead then I’d have to think harder about it. Might be that some arguments for gay marriage might apply in that case. I can think of no argument for gay marriage that would apply to animals of the top of my head, well no reasonable one. I don’t think gays argue they should be able to marry the same sex merely on the issue of attraction in one direction (as opposed to mutual consent). If someone did then that would be open to the same argument for pets and toasters.
Yeah, and if we let homosexuals get married the next thing you know heterosexuals will want to get married.
That’s strange, I had a cigarette last night after consuming a fatty meal I put salt on followed by a sugar cookie. So your whole argument seems like bullshit right from the beginning.
Reasonable arguments, there might not be. But irrational appeals, there are in droves.
Here are some of those, which the cartoon is based off:
And, to keep up the classy, here’s a spot of fun about marrying inanimate objects:
This whole thing was started by straight marriage. If only they had been far-sighted enough to not allow that, we’d be fine today.
Look, I’ll tell you what will happen if gay people are allowed to marry…
gay people will marry…
end of story
I don’t even buy the end of these roads as being necessarily bad. What if people want to marry their pet? As long as the illegal bestiality isn’t involved, since even married folk are required to have consentual sex, what is the problem? Even polygamy fits into this catagory. While I agree that vemost forms of polygamy has major consent and rights issues, it is those issues that need to be addressed, not the polygamy itself.
Most people who have intelligent conversation don’t bother to fill in all the details because they assume the other party is a) literate b) will assume the most charitable intepretation for brevities sake.
For example I assumed when writing that the intelligent reader would realize that cigarettes are not banned in the way you assumed, and would be aware of how it unfolded. They don’t ban people from buying cigarettes altogether. They had several arguments, one being second hand smoke, and another the burden on the public health care. I also assumed they’d be literate enough to pick up a newpaper and read about the mayor of NYC and his fat and salt bans.
I’m sure an intelligent reader can think of scores of other examples of things being banned in various settings that would have been laughable thirty five years ago. Like toys being sold with happy meals.
Of course, this being the internet I shouldn’t assume everyone is intelligent, and well meaning.
Well for animals it makes no sense to claim they agreed to a marriage contract. They also cannot consent to sex. So it makes zero sense to call it marriage, and I can bring up other issues.
When was the last time you bought a wife like you buy an animal? There is a sense in which it might be similar to a chattle marriage but only if there were (nonconsenual) sex involved with the animal. If you are going to allow marring animals you open the argument to both chattle marriage, and potentially slavery. After all if animals and humans are equivalent in this regard then why can’t you own a human.
It all becomes rather silly with animals.
For polygamy it is hard to argue it isn’t marriage because its been called that for thousands of years. The question there is should it be re-legalized.
I don’t see how to fairly address consent issues with polygamy. There are also lots of externalities with polygamy that have to be addressed, like all the envious unmarried males, jealous partners needing state assistance, etc.
I don’t listen to people like O’Reilly. I understand however that he doesn’t know that gravity is a cause for the tides. I’m not surprised he’s made these truly fallacious kinds of arguments. Not every person making such arguments are the dimwits that you have pointed out here. Just don’t confuse the two.
As I said, I have no problem with the cartoon. I was trying to point out that sometimes arguments are misidentified as “slippery slope” when in fact they are otherwise.
As someone a who intends to write for “intelligent readers” you shouldn’t be surprised when your obfuscation is called out. If your going to write for intelligent readers you should be as specific as possible when making your points. Such as your use of “ban” for instance.
It make you look the fool when you claim they are “banned” when what you should have said is that “smoking” in some places is prohibited. The same with your example of fats and salts, which are also not “banned” in anyway, even within NYC. They are restricted from use in certain public facilities, but only Trans-fats, not all fats as you said. Also Salt has not been acted upon, so your example is even wrong all together there. But you since your real motive is obfuscation of the facts to make your logical fallacy seem more dramatic you won’t care.
But mostly… Fuck you, you coy ass arrogant douche bag.
I’m assuming that’s your example of “intelligent conversation.” Classy. :/
I tend to be coy around people [who react] like you. Had you not included that last sentence in your first comment I would have responded in a less “coy” fashion.
Most Americans know what “cigarette ban” [historically] refers to. Perhaps since you like to refer to yourself as “The Captain” you are from some other seafaring country [rather than the US] and aren’t a native speaker, [or are not familiar with our [meaning my] culture]. The words “prohibited” and “banned” are equivalent in this context. I’m sure you would have had the same reaction had I used the former [word] instead of the latter [word].
I think the fact how they banned [prohibited] cigarettes [in some places] is well known and therefore I didn’t need to spell that out. My comments tend to be long winded enough, don’t you think [without all this interjection of assumable details].
I’m sorry but it made you look the fool to assume I was claiming that all cigarettes, all sugar, all fats, all salt were banned in all places. Yes, I know that the salt ban didn’t end up in effect but the fact that it was actually proposed by introducing an actual bill is an accurate enough event for confirming the joke. John Stewart would approve.
What’s really got you in such a rage? You seemed to be angry from the start. Did your dad die in a salt mine causing you to be anti-salt, and you found my ridicule of such unpassed bills to be offensive? Perhaps your entire family is seafaring and he drown at sea [in salt water]?
There are many other examples of certain precidents/ways of thought leading to the ridiculous. Zero tolerance, speech codes, harrassment laws, etc. Jokes were made, and many years later the results frightenly close to the predictions made in the jokes. Jokes like “next they’ll be suspending kids for toy guns, or hugging the teacher”.
They were jokes because we didn’t think these people were that stupid, and the idea was to make them appear more stupid than they actually were. Unfortunately they were overestimated. They were not only stupid, they were stupid to the point of incredulity.
Introducing a bill to ban salt in restaurants is precisely the kind of nanny state stupidity one can expect from certain quarters. Predictable stupidity based on [some of the reasoning] used to rationalize cigarette bans.
Dude, what’s wrong with marrying your goat? I did it.