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Encyclopedia > Appeal to tradition

Appeal to tradition, also known as appeal to common practice or argumentum ad antiquitatem or false induction is a common logical fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it has a long standing tradition behind. Essentially: "This is right because we've always done it this way." It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Fallacy. ...


This argument makes basically two assumptions:

  • The old way of thinking was proven correct when introduced. This might be actually false: the tradition might be entirely based on incorrect grounds.
  • The reasons to prove the old way of thinking in the past are still valid today. If circumstances have changed, this may be false.

Also, the argument takes for granted that status quo is desired, which may or may not be correct. Personification of thought (Greek Εννοια) in Celsus Library in Ephesos, Turkey Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires. ... Status Quo are an English rock band whose music is characterised by a strong boogie line. ...


Examples:

  • "Our society has always ridden horses. It would be foolish to start driving cars."
Rebuttal: we want to travel farther and horses are no longer adequate for traveling such great distances. Furthermore, there was a point in our past where our ancestors made the change from walking to riding horses.
  • "Your invention is a bad idea because it has no historical precedent."
Rebuttal: the fact that something has not been previously attempted does not guarantee it will fail. Moreover, there is a first time for everything.
  • "These rules were written 100 years ago and we have always followed them. Therefore, there is no need to change them."
Rebuttal: the society in which the rules were written has changed, and thus those rules may no longer be applicable.
  • "Murdering innocents is wrong, because it has been considered so since the dawn of civilization."
Rebuttal: the conclusion might be correct, but the reasoning is fallacious. Murdering is wrong, because of the reasons given when it was first considered so (reasons which still hold), but not because of the tradition condemning it. Had it always been considered correct, it would still be wrong.

The opposite is the appeal to novelty, claiming something is good because it's new. The appeal to novelty (also called argumentum ad novitatem) is a logical fallacy in which someone claims that his or her idea or proposal is correct or superior because it is new and modern. ...


There is a well-known story in cooking that shows the folly of appeal to tradition. In this story, there is a woman who, when cooking ham, always begins by cutting off one end of the ham and throwing it away. When this mysterious behavior is questioned by a friend or family member, she admits that she does it only because her mother did it that way. Becoming curious herself, she asks her mother why she cuts the end off the ham; she, in turn, says that it is how her mother did it. When the grandmother is questioned, she reveals that she cut the end off the ham only because it wouldn't fit in her pan otherwise. There are several variations to this story.


See also

The appeal to novelty (also called argumentum ad novitatem) is a logical fallacy in which someone claims that his or her idea or proposal is correct or superior because it is new and modern. ... Social inertia is a term that applies the concept of inertia to psychology and sociology. ... A tradition is a story or a custom that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation, originally without the need for a writing system. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Aristotle appears first to establish the mental behaviour of induction as a category of reasoning. ...

External links

  • Ham story.
Fallacies of Irrelevance
v  d  e
Absurdity | Argument from ignorance | Argument from silence | Bandwagon fallacy
Bulverism | Irrelevant conclusion | Middle ground | Missing argument
Proof by assertion | Straw man | Style over substance | Two wrongs make a right
Appeal to consequences:
Appeal to force | Wishful thinking
Appeal to emotion:
Fear | Flattery | Nature | Pity | Repugnance | Ridicule | Spite
Genetic fallacy:
Personal attack (Appeal to motive | Guilt by association | Poisoning the well | You too)
Appeal to authority (Novelty | Poverty | Tradition | Wealth) | Chronological snobbery | Etymology
Other types of fallacy

  Results from FactBites:
 
Appeal to Tradition (847 words)
Appeal to Tradition is a fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that something is better or correct simply because it is older, traditional, or "always has been done." This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:
Hence, Appeal to Tradition is a somewhat common fallacy.
It should not be assumed that new things must be better than old things (see the fallacy Appeal to Novelty) any more than it should be assumed that old things are better than new things.
Appeal to tradition - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (347 words)
Appeal to tradition, also known as appeal to common practice or argumentum ad antiquitatem is a common logical fallacy in which someone proclaims his or her accuracy by noting that "this is how it's always been done." Essentially: "This is right because we've always done it this way."
The opposite is the appeal to novelty, claiming something is good because it's new.
There is a well-known story in cooking that shows the folly of appeal to tradition.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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