< I’m on the road for the next several days and won’t always have access to the Internet. So I’m reposting a series of classic fallacies. Regular service to resume early next week. This post originally appeared on 22 December 2013.
People are happy to discover any argument which supports a position they favor. So pleased are they to find any corroboration (however weak) that the argument is embraced even if it is fallacious. This series (Genetic, Hypocrisy) examines fallacies beloved by today’s dominant culture.
Caution: because an argument for a conclusion has been shown fallacious, this does not prove that all arguments for that conclusion are fallacious, merely that the argument in question should be abandoned. But also keep in mind that if the fallacious argument was all the conclusion had going for it, yet you still hold that it is true, your sole justification is your desire, a dangerous situation.
Whether it is legal or not, there is seemingly no place in the world where it doesn’t exist. Indeed, it’s even been found to exist among primates who have been taught how to use money. Given all of this, one wonders what the value in trying to ban the practice actually is.
This is easily seen to be fallacious in a parallel argument.
It is the case that chimpanzees and apes, which is to say primates, like men, from time to time kill fellow conspecifics, usually while in sour moods or in disputes over money or other resources. The practice has long been observed and in many places; indeed, there is seemingly no place in the world where these animals (chimps, apes, men) are found where these killings do not exist. Given all of this, one wonders what the value in trying to ban the practice actually is.
Arguments pointing to the behavior of non-human animals are often used to justify human actions. Sexual promiscuity is the most common: for example, the (so we are told) ever-randy bonobo has had much drool—sorry, ink—spilt recommending its amorous activities for the masses. From which we learn there are many lonely academics.
From the Friends of the Bonobo society here is an example of the Apes-Do-It fallacy. The argument is only implicit here, but to give them a pass on that account would be like forgiving a television comedian his political asininities as long as he ducks behind his status. “I’m only a comedian!” Besides, there are plenty of places where arguments similar to this are explicit.
But when you get to know bonobos, you’ll see they couldn’t be more different. Like humans, chimpanzees have war. The males are in charge, and they can occasionally be very violent. Sometimes they even kill each other.
Bonobos do not kill each other. The females are in charge of the group and they seem to keep everyone’s temper under control with sexual activity. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or if you’re male or female — if you’re a bonobo, sex plays a big part in living together peacefully.
The text acknowledges that humans and chimps are a murderous bunch, a well known truth. But the implicit argument that if female humans were “in charge” as female bonobos (seemingly) are, then human males, sated with sex doled out at regular intervals would cease knocking each other on the head is clearly silly.
Would there be a government bureaucracy devoted to this new welfare? The authors have also forgotten sexual dimorphism (perhaps female humans are meeker because their mates are so much larger and stronger?), procreation (who takes care of the inevitable issue promiscuity brings?), and—the worst sin—the Andrea “All Sex Is Rape” Dworkins of the world (who can imagine a feminist supporting this program?).
Strangely, we rarely hear calls to emulate dung beetles or blow files.