slippery slope : Java Glossary


slippery slope
The slippery slope is a debating trick and logical fallacy. The Nizkor Project explains many of the logical fallacies frequently used in debate. They define the slippery slope this way:

The Slippery Slope is a fallacy in which a person asserts that some event must inevitably follow from another without any argument for the inevitability of the event in question. In most cases, there are a series of steps or gradations between one event and the one in question and no reason is given as to why the intervening steps or gradations will simply be bypassed. This argument has the following form:

This sort of reasoning is fallacious because there is no reason to believe that one event must inevitably follow from another without an argument for such a claim. This is especially clear in cases in which there is a significant number of steps or gradations between one event and another.

Here is an example: If we allow homosexuals any civil rights, then inevitably they will take over and make it compulsory and heterosexuality illegal and will force us to stand by while they rape our children or even force us to participate.

The silliness of the argument is clear if you apply the slippery slope argument to driving a car. According to the slippery slope argument, you should never turn your wheel, even a tad, to the right, or you might keep on turning it and go into the ditch. Those proposing such an argument fail to consider that once you have turned sufficiently, you will, of course, stop turning. Why would you deliberately hurt yourself? They fail to consider that if you turn too far right, you then naturally correct back. Correcting alternately right/left is the normal way to drive, nothing to fear.

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