I’m trying to become better at recognizing all of the logical fallacies. A fallacy is a defect that weakens an argument. One of the easiest to understand is the Slippery Slope.
The Slippery Slope argument, according to Wikipedia, “…states that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant effect.” It is also known as the thin edge of the wedge, the camel’s nose or the continuum fallacy.
The Slippery Slope argument can be a valid one, if you establish all the steps properly. For instance, if A does lead to B, if B does lead to C, if C does lead to D, then you can make a proper case of A leading to D. What we often see, though, is someone saying A leads to D with no evidence of the intermediate steps.
We’ve heard this one a lot recently on the issue of same-sex marriage. The Family Research Council says, “But once marriage is no longer confined to a man and a woman, it is impossible to exclude virtually any relationship between two or more partners of either sex–even non-human “partners.” Yes, they are saying gay marriage leads to marrying your [insert animal you find sexy.] Of course, same-sex marriage exists in other countries and none of them permit man-beast marriage. Perhaps here in the U.S. we are more attached to our livestock?
We also see this applied to euthanasia with the argument that if we allow euthanasia, we will soon be killing our grandparents when they become a burden. The Jeremiah Project says, “The advocates of euthanasia are asking the government and courts to step aside and allow people who are feeble and elderly to be snuffed out.” It’s a complex issue deserving of study, but so far the ranks of the elderly have not been demolished in those places allowing euthanasia.
I’ll be looking for further instances of the Slippery Slope fallacy.