A False Dichotomy, or false dilemma, is a dichotomy (a set of two mutually exclusive, jointly exhaustive alternatives) of arguments that ignores the potential for an infinite set of alternative arguments; for an infinite number of overlapping arguments; or for the potential that neither part of the dichotomy is correct.
A false dichotomy is often employed by an arguer to force the other side into an extreme position by assuming that there are only two possible positions. At it’s essence, it says “you are either with us or against us,” which ignores the all other possibilities, such as “we are with you on points A&B, but against you on points C,D&E.”
Anti-vaxxer: Vaccines are so dangerous that you either support vaccines which means you hate children, or you’re against vaccines which means you love children.
Pro-science: In fact, the adverse effects of vaccines are so small, and the risk of complications from vaccine preventable pathogens, the evidence supports the use of vaccines. The argument should be that the benefits far outweigh the risks so preventing disease is what is important.
Anti-vaxxer: blah blah blah. Obviously, you’re on the side of hating children.
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False Dilemma Examples
False Dilemma is a type of logical fallacy, which is a belief or claim based on mistaken reasoning. False Dilemma is a fallacy based on an “either-or” type of argument. Two choices are presented, when more might exist, and the claim is made that one is false and one is true-or one is acceptable and the other is not. Often, there are other alternatives, or both choices might be false or true.
1. You are for us, or you are against us.
2. I thought you cared about other people, but I didn’t see you at the fundraiser for the Harris Family.
3. Child to parent: Either you buy me this new book, or you decide that reading is not important at all.
4. Politician: We have to decide if we are going to support school choice or if we are going to support failing schools. Those are the only two options.
5. Drink water every day and be healthy, or continue to drink sodas and be unhealthy. Those are the only options.
6. You either support Hillary Clinton for President or you don’t believe in women’s rights.
7. The animal shelter is a place that values animal rights and never euthanizes animals, or the animal shelter is a place that kills innocent animals.
8. You either like kids or you don’t.
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