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ACCIDENT FALLACY

a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid


(also known as: destroying the exception, dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter, dicto
simpliciter, converse accident, reverse accident, fallacy of the general rule, sweeping
generalization)
Description: When an attempt is made to apply a general rule to all situations, when clearly there
are exceptions to the rule. Simplistic rules or laws rarely take into consideration legitimate
exceptions, and to ignore these exceptions is to bypass reason to preserve the illusion of a perfect
law. People like simplicity and would often rather keep simplicity at the cost of rationality.
Logical Form:
X is a common and accepted rule.
Therefore, there are no exceptions to X.
Example #1:
I believe one should never deliberately hurt another person, thats why I can never be a
surgeon.
Explanation: Classifying surgery under hurting someone, is to ignore the obvious benefits that go
with surgery. These kinds of extreme views are rarely built on reason.
Example #2:
The Bible clearly says, thou shall not bear false witness, therefore, as a Christian, you better
answer the door and tell our drunk neighbor with the shotgun, that his wife, whom he is
looking to kill, is hiding in our basement, otherwise you are defying God himself!
Explanation: To assume any law, even divine, applies to every person, in every time, in every
situation, even though not explicitly stated, is an assumption not grounded in evidence, and
fallacious reasoning.
Exception: Stating the general rule when a good argument can be made that the action in question
is a violation of the rule, would not be considered fallacious.
The Bible says, thou shall not murder, therefore, as a Christian, you better put that chainsaw
down and untie that little kid.

Tip: It is your right to question laws you dont understand or laws with which you dont agree.

Accident
Definition:
A general rule is applied when circumstances suggest that an exception
to the rule should apply.
Examples:
i.

The law says that you should not travel faster than 50 kph, thus even
though your father could not breathe, you should not have travelled
faster than 50 kph.

ii.

It is good to return things you have borrowed. Therefore, you should


return this automatic rifle from the madman you borrowed it from.
(Adapted from Plato's Republic, Book I).

Proof:
Identify the generalization in question and show that it is not a universal
generalization. Then show that the circumstances of this case suggest
that the generalization ought not to apply.

Accident (fallacy)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced
material may be challenged and removed. (September 2011)

The informal fallacy of accident (also called destroying the exception or a dicto simpliciter ad
dictum secundum quid) is a deductively valid but unsound argument occurring in statistical
syllogisms (an argument based on a generalization) when an exception to a rule of thumb[1] is
ignored. It is one of the thirteen fallacies originally identified by Aristotle in Sophistical Refutations.
The fallacy occurs when one attempts to apply a general rule to an irrelevant situation.
For example:

Cutting people with knives is a crime.


Surgeons cut people with knives.

Surgeons are criminals.


It is easy to construct fallacious arguments by applying general statements to specific
incidents that are obviously exceptions.
Generalizations that are weak generally have more exceptions (the number of exceptions to
the generalization need not be a minority of cases) and vice versa.
This fallacy may occur when we confuse particulars ("some") for categorical
statements ("always and everywhere"). It may be encouraged when no qualifying words like
"some", "many", "rarely" etc. are used to mark the generalization.
Related inductive fallacies include: overwhelming exception, hasty generalization. See faulty
generalization.
The opposing kind of dicto simpliciter fallacy is the converse accident.

Accident fallacy

For more information, see the Wikipediaarticle:

Accident fallacy
The Accident fallacy, or a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid, is when generalizations are applied
to circumstances when they are otherwise flukes or exceptions. The broader the generalization, the weaker it
tends to be, and is more prone to this type of fallacy. In other words, it is insisting that the rule of thumb applies
even to the exceptions.

Examples

Example 1
1.

Cutting people is criminal

2.

Surgeons cut people

3.

Surgeons are criminals

Example 2

1.

God gives people meaning and purpose

2.

Atheists have meaning and purpose

3.

They believe in God, but are in denial

Converse Accident Fallacy


The Converse accident fallacy is similar to the accident fallacy, except, in reverse. The
exception is used to justify a generalization.
Example 1

1.

Speeding on the roads is illegal

2.

The police can legally speed in an emergency

3.

I can legally speed if it's an emergency

Example 2

1.

God did evil things in pursuit of doing good, and still be good

2.

I'm trying to do good

3.

I can do evil things while still being good