People like to argue, and they argue a lot! But not all arguments are logically correct, even though they might sound persuasive.
The slippery slope is a common logical fallacy that often sounds very persuasive but is logically wrong. A slippery slope fallacy is when someone argues that a small change will lead to a disastrous result.
This kind of thinking is often used to scare people into opposing something, even if it’s just a small change. This blog will give examples of the fallacy at work and some tips about avoiding it.
What Is A Slippery Slope Fallacy?
The slippery slope fallacy is also known as the domino fallacy. It is an argument claiming that a course of action will lead to something undesirable.
This is often used as an argument against action on a certain issue. “If we allow this, then what’s next? We’ll be living in chaos!” The problem with this line of thinking is that it’s based on an unsubstantiated fear of the future.
It is a logical fallacy that’s all too common in everyday arguments.
But just because something could happen, doesn’t mean that it definitely will happen. In this blog post, we’ll explore the slippery slope fallacy in more depth and provide some examples to help you spot it next time you’re in a discussion.
Let’s check out some examples to understand it better.
Slippery Slope Examples
Now that we’ve reviewed what the slippery slope fallacy is and how it works, let’s look at some examples to help you spot it next time you’re in a discussion:
- If we don’t do something about global warming, eventually our planet will become uninhabitable.”
- If students don’t get good grades in school, they’ll never be able to get into college.
- If we raise taxes on the wealthy, they will eventually leave our country.
- If women have the right to abortion, eventually they’ll be allowed to kill their newborn babies.
- If gay marriage is legalized, people will eventually be allowed to marry animals.
- If we don’t stop immigration now, our country will be overrun by foreigners.
- If we allow refugees into our country, terrorists will sneak in among them.
- If we don’t pay attention to conspiracy theories, our government will eventually become a dictatorship.
- If I eat one cookie now, I’ll never be able to stop eating cookies, and I’ll get fat.
- If I don’t do well on this test, I’ll never graduate from college.
- If we allow students to chew gum in class, the next thing you know, they’ll be smoking cigarettes on campus.
Types of Slippery Slope Fallacies
Slippery slope arguments come in different forms and types. To recognize and avoid the slippery slope, you must be aware of all its forms.
The following are some of the types of slippery slope arguments. Many examples given above belong to this category of the slippery slope. Here is another example,
- If women are allowed to vote, the institution of the family will eventually disappear.
Precedential Slippery Slope
The precedential slippery slope argument argues that if we take one step in a particular way, it will set a precedent for the future. That is, we will have to take that step again whenever similar situations arise.
- If we allow people to bring emotional support dogs into the park, then we would have to allow emotional support horses and snakes.
Causal Slippery Slope Arguments
When someone claims that a small initial event will inevitably lead to a major undesirable consequence, it is a causal slippery slope.
It is the most common type of slippery slope argument, and many of the above examples conform to this type of slippery slope fallacy.
Here is another example:
- If I visit the doctor, everyone will know I am ill. So they will start visiting me, which will make me more ill. Hence I won’t go to the doctor.
Conceptual Slippery Slope Arguments
The conceptual slippery slope fallacy argues that because two scenarios are possibly related, they must be treated the same.
- If A can lead to F, and F is undesirable, then A should be avoided.
This fallacy is often used when arguing against a specific course of action. It argues that because it’s possible to go down a bad path, it must be avoided at all costs.
Watch Out For the Slippery Slope
Now that you are aware of the definition and types of the slippery slope and read some examples, it will be easier for you to catch it.
The slippery slope fallacy is one of the easiest to catch in an opponent’s argument, but hard to avoid yourself. So take these steps to avoid the slippery slope fallacy:
- First, make sure that you have evidence to support your claims. Whenever you make a causal or precedential connection between two events or concepts, bring evidence to support it.
- Second, focus on figuring out the immediate consequences rather than proposing far-fetched and long-term effects.
- Third, be careful to avoid overstating your case by suggesting that one small thing will inevitably lead to big disasters down the road.
You learned about the slippery slope fallacy with examples in this blog. Moreover, you also learned what steps you could take to avoid the slippery slope in your arguments.
So next time you are arguing with someone, don’t slip down the slippery slope!
Holds a degree in Literature from the University of Utah and has been writing for more than 10 years.