Argumentum ad temperantiam

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The middle ground (also called argumentum ad temperantiam) between extreme points of view is often described as the logical place to find the truth. This is a logical fallacy. The middle ground is most often invoked when there are sharply contrasting views which are deeply entrenched. It is considered a logical fallacy because the quality of being in the middle does not inform about the truth of the claim made.

Examples

  • "If you don't believe in God, you'll go to hell when you die."
  • Teacher: What is 2+2?
    Student A: 4.
    Student B: 8.
    Teacher: No, the correct answer is 6.
  • In the Old Testament of the Bible, King Solomon's "decision" -- when confronted with two women who each claimed the same baby to be their own -- that the baby be cut in half and each purported mother given a half. Although this "plan" was really a brilliant way to determine the true mother (i.e., the one who said, "No! Don't do that!"), his given reasoning falsely assumes that the middle ground is best for all parties involved.
"Boiling water is comparatively cold, molten lava is comparatively hot. Therefore it is best to bathe in molten lead, it is the middle ground."
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