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The Appeal To Pity Fallacy: Why You Shouldn’t Be Emotional 

Have you ever had someone try to guilt you into doing something? Maybe they told you a sob story about how their life is so hard and how you’re the only one who can help them. Or maybe they tried to make you feel bad by saying that you don’t care about them. If so, you’ve been the victim of the appeal to pity fallacy.

What Is The Appeal To Pity Fallacy?

The appeal to pity or guilt fallacy is when someone tries to persuade you by making you feel sorry for them. They might do this by telling a sob story or making it seem like you’re the only one who can help them. 

For example, imagine that your friend asks you to help them move. You don’t want to, but then they start talking about how their back is hurting, and they can’t do it alone. Now you feel guilty and end up helping them move. 

Appeals to pity are often used in arguments, especially when the person knows they’re wrong. For example, imagine that your friend has been caught stealing from a store. When you confront them, they start crying and begging for forgiveness. 

They might even say something like, “I’m so sorry! I was just desperate and needed the money.” You might be more likely to forgive them even though they did something wrong. 

Ad Misericordiam Fallacy

The argumentum ad misericordiam is an informal logical fallacy when someone uses emotion instead of logic and reason to win an argument. This fallacy is sometimes known as the “appeal to pity” or the “appeal to emotion.”

This fallacy is often used when the person making the argument knows that they cannot win on logic alone. For example, imagine that you are arguing with a friend about whether or not global warming is real. Your friend has no scientific evidence to support their claim that global warming isn’t real, but they try to win you over by appealing to your emotions.

They might say, “Think about all the people who will suffer if we don’t do something about global warming! We have to act now!” In this case, your friend is trying to make you feel guilty or scared so that you will agree with them, even though their argument has no basis.

Examples Of Appeal To Pity 

  • I’m sorry, but I need this money. I’m about to lose my house.
  • Please forgive me; I’ll never end up failing a grade again.
  • I can’t believe she would do something like that to me.
  • You have to help me; I don’t know what to do.
  • It’s not his fault; he had a terrible childhood.

Why You Shouldn’t Fall For It 

Just because someone makes you feel sorry for them doesn’t mean that you should do what they want. After all, just because someone is in a bad situation doesn’t mean they’re right. 

Let’s go back to the example of your friend asking you to help them move. Just because they have a bad back doesn’t mean you should drop everything and help them move. You have a right to say no without feeling guilty. 

The same goes for the example of your friend stealing from a store. Just because they were desperate doesn’t mean that what they did was okay. The bottom line is that appeals to pity are a form of emotional manipulation. 

Just because someone gives you feelings of pity doesn’t mean you should do what they want. The next time someone tries to guilt you into doing something, remember the appeal to pity fallacy and stand your ground!

Cathy Aranda
Cathy Aranda
Chief Author and Editor

Hello, everyone! I am Cathy A. and I am the Chief Author and Editor at I overlook all the guides and blogs being written on the website about argumentative essay writing.

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