Argumentum ad baculum

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The argumentum ad baculum (Latin for "argument to the stick") is a sort of logical fallacy, a variant on argument from adverse consequences, in which the adverse consequences are administered deliberately as a punishment rather than something which follows logically from the premise. This has proven very helpful to certain sectors of society in the past.


[edit] Form

The argument takes this form:

  • If person A acknowledges proposition X as true / false, then action Y will be taken.
  • If Y occurs, A suffers negative consequences.
  • Therefore, X is not true / false.

The simple fact that a threat exists is not ad baculum. For example, it is a perfectly reasonable argument to say that jumping into an active volcano is a bad idea because the person who does so will be horribly killed, because the speaker is not threatening to horribly kill the person they are speaking to.

[edit] Reversal

A modified form of the argument was otherwise known as the Inquisitorial Question, and took this form:

  • If person A denies being a heretic, then we will torture A.
  • Therefore, A is a heretic.

It proved very useful for getting almost all the Inquisition's targets to admit they were heretics.

[edit] Nothing to do with

The actual baculum in animal anatomy. As such, this is not "Argument to the penis bone".

[edit] See also

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