Sunday, January 31, 2016

False Equivalence

False equivalence is a logical fallacy that occurs when there seems to be an apparent equivalence when, in actuality, there is not. It is an important concept to understand because it is often used as a way to derail a topic of conversation in political discourse.

As a rhetorical strategy, false equivalence is often used in politics when one side claims that the other side has done something equally wrong. While the claim may or may not be true, the fact of the matter is that pointing out the wrongs of someone or something else not only does not excuse one's own wrongs, it is also completely arbitrary to the original conversation. Another common form of false equivalence that comes up when discussing politics is brought to light when people choose to opt out of the voting process with their reason being that they view both candidates as equally reprehensible. In reality, a person can pick apart each candidates' political platform and in their mind, essentially choose between the lesser of two evils based on which is more closely aligned with their own opinions. That being said, in this situation the false equivalence can either be seen as a lazy cop-out, or as a statement of moral opposition to the premise of having to make a choice between two candidates that a person finds to be unfit to be in office. Regardless, this mindset ultimately contributes to a poor voter turnout, which has arguably negative effects on the democratic process.

Furthermore, in rhetorical disputes drawing false equivalences is not only a way to avoid taking a stance, it is the wrong stance. As blog author Jamison Foser explains (the blog can be found at, refusing to pick a side incentivizes bad behavior because when one party's wrongdoings are greater than another's yet yield the same penalty, the party with the greater wrongdoing will gain the benefits of its infraction seeing that the penalty is the same for the party with the lesser wrongdoing.

Overall, this is a topic that is important to address when it comes to rhetorical disputes in general. false equivalence is a logical fallacy that is all too present, especially when it comes to political disputes, and it ultimately serves to divert topics of conversation and foster dishonesty in our democratic system.

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