No true Scotsman

From Academic Kids

No true Scotsman is a term coined by Anthony Flew in his 1975 book Thinking About Thinking. It refers to an argument which takes this form:

Argument: "No Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."
Reply: "But my uncle Angus likes sugar with his porridge."
Rebuttal: "Ah yes, but no true Scotsman puts sugar on his porridge."

When considering this argument in a context of rhetorical logic, this is a fallacy if the predicate ("putting sugar on porridge") is not actually contradictory for the accepted definition of the subject ("Scotsman"), or if the definition of the subject is silently adjusted after the fact to make the rebuttal work.

Some elements or actions are exclusively contradictory to the subject, and therefore aren't fallacies. The statement "No true vegetarian would eat a beef steak" is not fallacious because it follows from the accepted definition of "vegetarian:" Eating meat, by definition, disqualifies a (present-tense) categorization among vegetarians, and the further value judgement between a "true vegetarian" and the implied "false vegetarian" cannot likewise be categorized as a fallacy, given the clear disjunction. In logic, the mutually exclusive contradiction is called a logical disjunction.

However, humans do not always fall into the context of rhetorical logic. This type of argument is frequently used in contexts of identity, where it is easier for it to hold weight. The two classic examples of this are religion and sexual preference.

The statement "no true Christian" is often applied to people whose way of life deviates from the recommendations laid down by the apostles of Jesus, and written in the books of the New Testament. Because human identity is open to a wide variety of claims and substance, it may be seen as a fallacy to say this, as a wide and disparate variety of people self-identify as Christian. If there is no one accepted definition of the subject, then the definition must be understood in context, or defined in the initial argument for the discussion at hand.

Similarly, as sexual preference varies more widely and acquires more terms to describe it, professionals are seeing more people who differ between identity and action. Lesbians can sleep with men, because identity is fluid and not necessarily a topic for rhetorical logic.

It is also a common fallacy in politics, in which critics may condemn their colleagues as not being "true" liberals or conservatives simply because they occasionally disagree on certain matters of wahrer Schotte sv:Ingen sann skotte


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