Talk:Appeal to consequences

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Why is the argument from adverse consequences a fallacy? That X has adverse consequences is a prima facie reason for discontinuing X. This can be mitigated by positive consequences, in particular if the positive consequences significantly outweigh the adverse ones we have a reason to go on with X, but certainly the argument itself is a highly rational one, especially if recast in the following form: if X and X' have the same positive consequences but X' lacks the adverse consequences that X has we should discontionue X and do X' instead.

The argument that since eugenics is bad, evolution is bad is the same as saying that plumbers getting less money for two water fountains being maintained is bad, therefore civil rights and integration is bad. Taking one adverse consequence and arguing that that nullifies the good in the X is ludacris --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 01:07, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

That's a utilitarian view point, and one way to look at it. But suppose certain values are more important than consequences. Like truth. If teaching the truth causes more adverse consequences than teaching a lie, which should you teach? Many people feel truth wins out. Also adverse consequences does not speak to the truth value of an idea. If evolution played a role in genocide it does not mean that evolution is wrong. What ought to be is separate from what is. tmtoulouse beleaguer 01:11, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Well, this seems near to the question of which wins out, free speech or safety, like dealing with the cartoons. One of the negatives to free speech is possible repurcussions from less open-minded people, so should we censor ourselves to everything we say? Hell no. --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 01:17, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Right, so suddenly the argument is caste into terms of conflicting values, a little different than utilitarianism. I find the quantification of utilitarian ethics to be enticing but it seems to fall to capture the meaningful debates that do emerge in ethical theory. It seems you always have to come back to some sort of values based ethical theory. tmtoulouse beleaguer 01:23, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Yes, which seems to ultimately always fail because my values system is not the same as yours, so it would really come down to the values of the guy in power. And that guys values hopefully allows me to have my own values, as long as they aren't something like raping babies. --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 01:29, 25 June 2008 (EDT)
Which in turn gets into the role of the government and social contract theory (bet we don't have this article). Unfortunately, the social contract is always intertwined with values of the power structure. Even a "let you live your own life" system makes a value decision. There is thousands of years of debate about the make up of the social contract, I am partial to John Rawl's Theory of Justice I suppose, but the debate will rage on. tmtoulouse beleaguer 01:33, 25 June 2008 (EDT)


Much of what is said above leads too far -- we don't have to resolve all the issues concerning utilitarian vs. value-based to decide whether a particular form of argumentation is rational. For example, modus ponens is rational, irrespective of our stance on how we ground ethics, and "post hoc ergo propter hoc" is a fallacy. The issue I tried to address was whether the "argument from adverse consequences" itself is a fallacy or a rational form of argumentation. Specifically, I disagree with the main page that says this argument is a fallacy.

The example about civil rights and separate water fountains is great. What we want to question here is not the general law of arguing from adverse consequences, but rather the specific way this argument is put to use. One may view the resulting loss in plumbing jobs as an adverse consequence, but one may also view it as a positive outcome -- stop having separate water fountains and society will have to devote less effort to providing water to the public. What this shows is that the adverse effect is small, quite possibly nonexistent, while the positive outcome is huge (restoring the human dignity of a large segment of the population). For similar reasons, we think the Americans with Disabilities Act is a step forward, even if there are adverse societal costs (like having to build access ramps), which again are dubious (those who take the view that the job loss for plumbers was terrible must take the view that the ramps-occasioned job gains for carpenters/architects/masons are terrific).

To summarize: there is nothing wrong with the argument from adverse consequences at the logical level. It is NOT a fallacy. The parent page should be revised accordingly, concentrating on the weak points of applying this argument to the evolution/eugenics issue, rather than on the argument itself.


Demosthenes: it's a Wiki - improve if you will - you can be praised or damned afterwards. SusanG  ContribsTalk 16:39, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Excellently done Demosthenes. --*Gen. S.T. Shrink* Get to the bunker 18:46, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

Yes, nice. SusanG  ContribsTalk 18:55, 25 June 2008 (EDT)

I've removed the 'evolutionist No True Scotsman', as, to put it simply, it isn't. In the Crusades, the perpetrators of it claimed to be Christians, practised what the tenets of Christianity were at the time, and were widely regarded as being on a 'holy mission', with full support and even gratitude from the Christian religious authorities. Conversely, at best, eugenics is an offshoot of evolution that stems from an improper understanding of evolution. In addition, if you try to use the 'argument from adverse consequences' fallacy against evolution, you're ignoring that evolution is all about what actually happened/is happening. Therefore, even if evolution did lead to adverse consequences, that doesn't make it incorrect. Zmidponk 18:59, 25 June 2008 (EDT)


Zmidponk: good points. Thank you. The second fallacy is simply a form of wishful thinking: X has bad consequences, I wish it were untrue. I'm not sure this is worth adding to trhe article, though. Demosthenes

All kinds of consequences[edit]

I think that "adverse" should be dropped from the title.--ZooGuard (talk) 12:54, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

Climate change[edit]

Surely the most common example of the argument from adverse consequences is that against the reality of anthropogenic global warming/climate change, which goes something like: reducing greenhouse gas emissions would require policies we don't like, therefore anthropogenic greenhouse gasses don't have any effect on the climate.

Perhaps we should have some example that plainly exposes the absurdity of the fallacy, such as:

The existence of gravity would make falling from a height onto a hard surface unpleasant. Therefore, gravity cannot exist. Booshank (talk) 19:45, 1 June 2012 (UTC)


Anyone else seeing the quote under "Form" running into the navbar? (I'm using Chrome) -- Seth Peck (talk) 19:51, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

This is happening to others, see RationalWiki:Saloon_bar#cquote_problem?. --Onion <talk> 19:53, 1 June 2012 (UTC)

I know you hate to hear this, but...[edit]

Wouldn't the all-too-common "bad things have been done in the name of religion, therefore religion is evil" argument fall under this? --—signed by Lilfut 17:28, 12 July 2012 (UTC)

No, the fallacy is when the consequences are used to assert the truth of a premise. The argument "bad things have been done in the name of religion, therefore religions are incorrect/false" would be an example. (surely it's not necroing when the concept of bumping is impossible) —Kazitor, pending 11:32, 30 November 2017 (UTC)


Some content from Fuzzy "Cat" Potato, Jr. (talk/stalk) 00:40, 2 August 2015 (UTC)