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Appeal to pity

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Part of the series on
Logic and rhetoric
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General logic
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An appeal to pity is a logical fallacy that occurs when something is claimed to be true because (a) it is saddening or (b) its falsity would cause sadness. Its inverse is the appeal to hate.

It is an emotional appeal and an informal fallacy.

Alternate names[edit]

  • argumentum ad misericordiam
  • appeal to sympathy
  • Galileo argument (not to be confused with Galileo gambit)

Form[edit]

If overlaying some text on a sad puppy image:


P1: X is asserted in the context of sad situation Y.
P2: (unstated) Anything asserted in a sad context is true.
C1: X is true.

If someone tearfully demands a better grade:


P1: X is asserted by a person in sad situation Y.
P2: (unstated) Anything asserted by a person in sad situation is true.
C1: X is true.

Explanation[edit]

Just because something is sad does not mean that it is more or less true.

Examples[edit]

  • I couldn't afford to go to college, and I can't understand those fancy arguments you're using. But I've read my Bible, and it'd break my heart if it wasn't true.
  • Bob was an orphan, raised by a stepfather who had to work menial jobs all day to make ends meet.
  • I know Scruffles has rabies, slaughters other pets, and destroys furniture, but I love him and you can't take him away!
  • Officer, you can't give me a traffic ticket for running a red light: I'm going to the hospital to see my wife in critical condition to tell her I lost my job, the house burned down, and the car will be repossessed.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]