Monday, April 22, 2013

Argument by date - what is this fallacy called?

From the Dallas News reporting on the Boy Scouts decision to admit openly gay troops:

Last month, at a public forum in Washington, D.C., Bill Gates, the billionaire chairman of Microsoft — and a former Boy Scout — was asked by Mike Allen of Politico whether the BSA should rescind its ban on gay members and leaders.
“Absolutely,” Gates replied, without hesitation.
“Why?” Allen said.
“Because it’s 2013,” Gates responded.
Notice that this is absolutely devoid of content as an answer. You can supplement reconstructions in your head of what Gates is saying - but as an reply itself, it is as close to non-substantial as you can get. He may as well have said he holds his view because grass is green, or because Dr Pepper has caramel coloring.

But, for a lot of people, Gates just gave a reply. The very idea of asking him to actually explain himself would not only seem unnecessary, but actually somewhat rude. And it helps to illustrate what I mean about the sea change in opinion on these: it's not the result of argument, or  reasoned thinking, or much else that's substantial. It's due almost entirely to emotion, feel, and attitude.

2 comments:

Heuristics said...

I would think it to be a variation of chronological snobbery.

Typically chronological snobbery is of the form:

1. x happened y years ago
2. it is understood that everything that happened y years ago is bad.
3. therefore x is bad

The false part being that the age of something does not change it's truth value.

But this variation would be a bit like:

1. x is typical of what happened y years ago
2. it is understood that everything that happened y years ago is bad.
3. therefore x is bad and we should get rid of it


Crude said...

Chronological snobbery I've heard of. I've never heard it stated as a fallacy, but I suppose it makes sense.

But something more seems to be at work here.