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Appeal to shame

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Part of the series on
Logic and rhetoric
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General logic
Bad logic
Not to be confused with Argumentum ad verecundiam (argument from shame), which is an argument from authority.

An appeal to shame is a logical fallacy that occurs when someone's actions or arguments are described as "shameful" (meaning, looked down upon by others in society) and therefore wrong.

The fallacy is an emotional appeal and an informal fallacy.

Alternate names[edit]

  • appeal to guilt
  • political correctness
  • appeal to pride
  • argumentum ad superbium
  • ad hominem ridicule
  • appeal to humor
  • appeal to mockery
  • appeal to ridicule
  • horse laugh
  • refutation by caricature

Form[edit]

Someone holds a shameful opinion:


P1: X asserts Y.
P2: Y is shameful.
C1: X is shameful.

Someone shameful holds an opinion:


P1: X asserts Y.
P2: X is shameful.
C1: Y is false.

Appeal to ridicule[edit]

An appeal to ridicule is an appeal to shame with mocking laughter in the background. The fallacy occurs when the sole purpose of an argument is to make people laugh at someone, and use that social pressure to force someone to change their beliefs. While humor can be useful (especially in reductio ad absurdum arguments), it is not the primary point of an argument, and mocking should never be.

Appeal to pride[edit]

An appeal to pride is an inverse form of an appeal to shame. Instead of saying that something is shameful, something is described as something you should be proud of -- eg, "aren't you proud of our troops?"

Examples[edit]

  • "Aren't you ashamed for having that opinion?"
  • "Only the most degenerate, morally depraved, cretinous imbecile could fail to see the truth of my argument."
  • May be combined with Godwin's law (for example: Aren't you ashamed to be in favor of building highways, just like Hitler was?)
  • Oh, you're only 13. You can't have an interest in economics.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]