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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Argument by Exception

 

Have you ever disagreed with someone who used an argument by exception—the argument that a principle is contradicted (not merely qualified) by exceptions? As an example:

 

You: Nobody can reasonably conclude that it’s a good idea to let children have access to smartphones and the Internet, because it’s harmful to their underdeveloped brains and mental processes.

 

The other person: That’s not true, because my son is eight-years-old, has an iPhone with no parental locks, and he’s just fine!

 

Using an exception—a person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or which does not follow a rule—isn’t necessarily a rational approach to discussing relevant topics. Still, this sort of fallacy occurs frequently in people’s day-to-day lives.

 

Regarding this matter, one source states, “We are always in a hurry to classify people and groups and, when we have limited data about a group, we will often use what information we have, even if it is not statistically valid – and even if it is a single data point.”

 

The information one thinks or believes is known about people and groups, based on a single example of a child with an iPhone, may represent the exception rather than the rule. This is why the exception fallacy is named as it is.

 

I think understanding this logical inconsistency is important for those people who want to practice good faith discussions about sensitive matters. Along with willingness to consider where one may be wrong or how irrational beliefs may impact one’s worldview, comprehension about an argument by exception is a step closer to rational living.

 

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:

 

Changing Minds. (n.d.). Exception fallacy. Changing Works. Retrieved from http://changingminds.org/disciplines/argument/fallacies/exception.htm

Fleming, D. (n.d.). Exception, the fallacy of. Learn Logic. Retrieved from https://leanlogic.online/glossary/exception-the-fallacy-of/

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

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

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

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

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