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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Accident Fallacy

 

According to one source:

 

The fallacy of accident (also called destroying the exception or a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid) is an informal fallacy and a deductively valid but unsound argument occurring in a statistical syllogism (an argument based on a generalization) when an exception to a rule of thumb is ignored. It is one of the thirteen fallacies originally identified by Aristotle in Sophistical Refutations. The fallacy occurs when one attempts to apply a general rule to an irrelevant situation.

 

For example:

 

Gun owners are dangerous.

 

People who support the Second Amendment are gun owners.

 

Therefore, people who support the Second Amendment are dangerous.

 

I encounter the accident fallacy quite often when engaging in the consumption of sociopolitical commentary found online and elsewhere. Although it may be factual that some gun owners are dangerous, and that many people who support the Second Amendment own guns, generalizing in reference to all gun owners is illogical.

 

From the perspective of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I understand this sort of irrational belief as a form of global evaluation. Regarding gun ownership, this occurs when rating an entire group of people as dangerous while omitting evidence to the contrary. Regarding the accident fallacy, one source expands:

 

When an attempt is made to apply a general rule to all situations when clearly there are exceptions to the rule. Simplistic rules or laws rarely take into consideration legitimate exceptions, and to ignore these exceptions is to bypass reason to preserve the illusion of a perfect law. People like simplicity and would often rather keep simplicity at the cost of rationality.

 

For those individuals opposed to the Second Amendment or gun ownership altogether, it’s convenient to their irrational global evaluation to merely dismiss all gun owners as dangerous. Otherwise, their argument may be called to question if evidence to the contrary counters their claim.

 

Thinking about the accident fallacy, consider its logical form:

 

X is a common and accepted rule.

 

Therefore, there are no exceptions to X.

 

To exemplify this irrational form of argumentation, consider the following proposal:

 

It’s well-known that if guns were made illegal people wouldn’t die as a result of gun violence. Therefore, there are no exceptions to the fact that people shouldn’t be able to legally purchase firearms.

 

A simple counterclaim to this illogical proposition would be to propose that many illicit substances are currently criminalized, though such action doesn’t prevent people from obtaining and even dying from use of these substances. Of course, this is an inconvenient truth.

 

It’s much easier to vilify gun owners. After all, it’s a well-known fact that criticism of firearm accessibility in the United States saves lives; therefore, there are no valid rebuttals to criticism of firearm accessibility. (See what I did there?)

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


 

References:

 

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2024, April 2). Four major irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/four-major-irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (2023, September 13). Global evaluations. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/global-evaluations

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/logic-and-reason

Hollings, D. (2023, April 24). On truth. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-truth

Hollings, D. (2024, March 21). Putting toothpaste back into the tube. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/putting-toothpaste-back-into-the-tube

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2023, October 17). Syllogism. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/syllogism

Logically Fallacious. (n.d.). Accident fallacy. Retrieved from https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Accident-Fallacy

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Accident (fallacy). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accident_(fallacy)

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Aristotle. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Sophistical Refutations. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophistical_Refutations

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