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This slippery slope can be fallacious if it will be possible for us to avoid legalizing the [relatively negative thing] later, in spite of having set a certain precedent by legalizing the [relatively mild thing] in the present, since the argument fails to properly acknowledge this possibility. In general, this ability relies either on the fact that the small steps add up to create a significant difference, or on the fact that even in a series of small steps there can still be points where a differentiating line can be drawn for various reasons.

Slippery slope arguments are not inherently fallacious, and in some cases, a slippery slope argument can be a sound form of reasoning , rather than a logical fallacy.

How Slippery is the Slope, Really?

For example, the following is an example of a reasonable slippery slope argument:. This slippery slope argument suggests that if we allow something relatively minor to happen now people leaving fires unattended anywhere in the forest , then a relatively major negative event will likely happen in the future a forest fire , which is a reasonable stance to take in this case. In general, whether or not a certain slippery slope argument is reasonable and logically sound depends on a number of factors, which in turn depend on the type of slippery slope argument that is used.

As such, while some slippery slopes might clearly be reasonable, such as when they include a complete and definitive chain of events, and other slippery slopes might clearly be fallacious, such as when there is no possible way to reach from the first event in the chain to the final one, the status of some slippery slopes might be unclear and up for debate. In this regard, note that the soundness of slippery slope arguments can also be affected by the way they are phrased. Slippery slope arguments that are used in this manner often involve extreme exaggeration, which evokes powerful emotions.

Accordingly, slippery slopes are often combined with appeals to emotion , usually with the goal of appealing to negative emotions, such as fear or hate, but sometimes with the goal of appealing to positive emotions, such as hope or compassion. Note that a slippery slope itself can lead either to a positive outcome or a negative one.

When it leads to a positive outcome, a slippery slope can, for example, encourage people to undertake a certain course of action, with the promise of a major positive event in the end. Conversely, when a slippery slope leads to a negative outcome, it can, for example, encourage people to avoid undertaking a certain course of action, with the threat that if they do undertake that action, then it will lead to a major negative outcome for them in the end.

In general, slippery slopes are primarily associated with negative events, and as such, slippery slope arguments are frequently used as a fear-mongering technique. As part of this, slippery slope arguments often include a parade of horribles , which is a rhetorical device that involves mentioning a number of highly negative outcomes that will occur as a result of the initial event in question.

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Such arguments tend to follow specific patterns, such as saying that if a certain act is allowed in the present, then it will eventually lead to behavior that is similar to that of the Nazis. Note : slippery slopes that are associated with a positive chain of events are sometimes referred to as representing a virtuous cycle , while slippery slopes that are associated with a negative chain of events are sometimes referred to as representing a vicious cycle.

You can use any combination of these approaches that you think will work well. When you do this, keep in mind that the effectiveness of each approach will vary based on a number of factors, such as the type of slippery slope which was used, the context in which it appeared, and the audience it was presented to.


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In addition, another important thing to keep in mind when responding to a slippery slope is that slippery slope arguments are not inherently fallacious. If possible, ask the person who presented the slippery slope to explain their reasoning, which can be beneficial whether the slippery slope in question is fallacious or not. Various metaphors are frequently used in order to describe the concept of slippery slopes, and particularly the concept of causal slippery slopes.

The most common metaphors used for this purpose are the following:.

Internet, Freedom of Speech and Slippery Slope Argument – The Case of the ‘Right to Be Forgotten’

These metaphors often used together with slippery slope arguments, as analogies meant to illustrate the slippery slope being discussed. Slippery slope argument. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback.


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See Article History. This article was most recently revised and updated by Brian Duignan , Senior Editor. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:.

Logic , the study of correct reasoning, especially as it involves the drawing of inferences. This article discusses the basic elements and problems of contemporary logic and provides an overview of its different fields. For treatment of the historical development of logic, see logic, history of. For detailed discussion of specific fields,….

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