Friday, April 4, 2014

Why everything is debatable: Dogmatism

The dogmatism fallacy occurs when one doctrine is pushed, often intensely, as the only acceptable conclusion and that that belief is beyond question. Dogmatists are unwilling to even consider an opposing argument and ignore any contradictory evidence; some even believe that thinking about questioning the position is wrong. They frequently tell others both what to think and how to think. Anyone who disagrees with the position is branded as either stupid, evil, or biased while they alone are intelligent, morally superior, and objective. This is a fallacy because it blocks all future discussion (it also shifts the burden of proof) and is common with religious zealots, cults, and political extremists. If someone refuses to debate a topic while claiming that their position is the only possible solution, then they are committing a dogmatism fallacy.

How it applies: When a creationist claims, “All truth is found in the Bible, and since it doesn’t talk about evolution, then it must not have occurred,” they are committing this fallacy. Obviously, there are many things the Bible doesn’t address: gravity, electromagnetism, you. This argument was recently made by Ken Hamm in his debate with Bill Nye.

Examples:


  • The assumption that the economic theory of capitalism explains moral choices.
  • The assumption that socialism is morally wrong, even though you attend a public university.
  • The assumption that welfare is wrong and all those who partake in it are lazy (even though you accept federal financial aid or would accept state aid in the case of a catastrophic accident or injury)
  • The argument that drugs are morally wrong and drug addicts should all be locked up or even executed (although you drink alcohol and coffee, your sister takes Ritalin, your mother uses anti-depressants, and your best friend used AA to overcome his alcoholism).
  • “There’s no way that anyone can argue that abortion is anything other than murder.”
  • “There’s no way a man could ever love a man or a woman could ever love a woman as much as a man and a woman can love each other.”