Monday, February 29, 2016

Fallacy of the Phantom Distinction

The fallacy of the phantom distinction is also known as the logical fallacy of distinction without a difference. It occurs when an argument is used to imply a difference between two things although those two things are exactly the same. Arguments like these have caused too many unnecessary conflicts. For example, when someone says, "I oppose gay marriage, but I think gay couples should be allowed civil unions that would give them all the same rights that heterosexual couples have." Although most people might think that a marriage and a civil union is relatively similar, radical groups that are for or against gay marriage see a distinction between the two hence, the argument. A marriage is a civil union with a marriage license and a civil union is also a partnership but without legal documentations. However, for most people the argument will seem redundant because both the terms are relatively the same.

Another example of the fallacy of the phantom distinction is when someone argues, "Before we condemn all violence used to promote a social agenda, we must remember that there is an important distinction between freedom fighters and mere terrorists." To some, there is no difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. They're both radical violent groups that acts on an agenda - freedom and/or religion. However, because of the choice of words and the way the sentence was phrased, it swerves the people's perception hence, creating a distinction between the two words. Despite having similar definitions, the word "terrorist" has been stigmatized more negatively than the word "freedom fighters" thus, leading to an argument.


  1. This fallacy does bring out the fact that people contradict themselves more often than not. Especially when it comes to topics such as religion and politics. It is often minor details that are so finite that make the difference between the two arguments, unless the person is actually contradicting themselves. Usually these little differences are overlooked. To carry on with your example about the gay community, it is often seen that Christians hold negative views towards the gay community and desire to convert them. However, Catholics and true followers of Christ will have completely opposite opinions on the matter. The catholic will mention that being gay is a sin and that the person is doomed to the underworld. Whereas a Christian will point out that having such attractions might be a sin, but so is judging those who are gay or killing them. That we are all sinners and no one is "more" holy than another. This is a common contradiction that can easily invoke anger in someone listening to the reactions of a catholic or a christian. This is part of the fallacy, where these two arguments are often mixed up or as the same thing but are actually completely different. As opposed to someone arguing an actual contradiction. Evan arguing that Coke is the same as Pepsi could still be mixed up even though they are different products.

  2. This fallacy comes true more than what we or a regular person realizes. But I believe that this fallacy happens more in social media than one might think. One my have this fallacy between two family members, classmates, co-workers, friends, ect. But the intriguing part about this is that most of what two people know is based on their knowledge of each other. In other words, if I know something bugs my friend I might "egg him on." Then we would argue about two things that are the same but in our minds they are completely different. Usually it could happen just to pick fun with our friends. In the social media world, I think, that we are more collaborative with what we have on our minds. It varies in different cases because one person could be more vocal about an issue than someone else. A person may want to share their opinions on a controversial issue and someone may comment on something and say they are trying to prove a different point, when in reality they are not. But this fallacy reaches deeper than just disagreement. I would pose the question if these to social mediers would say the same thing in person? My guess, would be not. Confrontation in a face-to-face manner, scares people. Why? Because the internet and social media have pushed us into a shell behind a screen. It shuts us down. I have even just committed the fallacy. It happens between two different worlds (face-to-face vs social media), but it is still happening in both worlds. So I stated an argument that is saying the same thing. One, however, may have a different meaning than the other. But, in principal, it is the same thing. See, more common that what people actually realize.