Argumentum ad baculum
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A argumentum ad baculum (Latin for "argument to the stick") is a logical fallacy in which the arguer threatens their debate opponent with real or threatened violent or nonviolent coercion.
 Alternate names
- argument from force
- argument from power
The argument takes this form:
- If person A acknowledges proposition X as true / false, then action Y will be taken against person A.
- If Y occurs, A suffers negative consequences.
- Therefore, X is not true / not false.
 Non-fallacious form
As the argumentum ad baculum is an appeal to consequences, it's not fallacious if the argument is based on avoiding consequences rather than any truth value:
- If you do X you will suffer punishment Y
- You don't want to suffer punishment Y
- Therefore you shouldn't do X
The danger in holding a premise is irrelevant to the truth of that premise. This argument doesn't make any statement as to whether X is right or wrong, or whether punishment Y should follow action X, only that it's probably not something you want to do.
- If I don't think the boss is nice, I will be fired.
- I don't want to be fired.
- Therefore, I will think the boss is nice.
 Spanish Inquisition
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.
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