Appeal to tradition

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Appeal to tradition (also known as argumentum ad antiquitatem,[1] appeal to antiquity, or appeal to common practice) is a common fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition. The appeal takes the form of "this is right because we've always done it this way."[2]

An appeal to tradition essentially makes two assumptions that are not necessarily true:

  • The old way of thinking was proven correct when introduced, i.e. since the old way of thinking was prevalent, it was necessarily correct.
    • In actuality this may be false—the tradition might be entirely based on incorrect grounds.
  • The past justifications for the tradition are still valid at present.
    • In actuality, the circumstances may have changed; this assumption may also therefore be untrue.

The opposite of an appeal to tradition is an appeal to novelty, claiming something is good because it is new.

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References[edit]

  • Trufant, William (1917). Argumentation and Debating. Houghton Mifflin company. Digitized May 9, 2007.