Argument to moderation

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Argument to moderation (Latin: argumentum ad temperantiam)—also known as false equivalence, false compromise, [argument from] middle ground, fallacy of gray, middle ground, equidistance fallacy, and the golden mean fallacy[1]—is an informal fallacy which asserts that the truth must be found as a compromise between two opposite positions.[2][3]

An example of a fallacious use of the argument to moderation would be to regard two opposed arguments—one person saying that the sky is blue, while another claims that the sky is in fact yellow—and conclude that the truth is that the sky is green.[4] While green is the colour created by combining blue and yellow, therefore being a compromise between the two positions—the sky is obviously not green, demonstrating that taking the middle ground of two positions does not always lead to the truth.

Vladimir Bukovsky maintained that the middle ground between the Big Lie of Soviet propaganda and the truth was itself a lie, and one should not be looking for a middle ground between disinformation and information.[5] According to him, people from the Western pluralistic civilization are more prone to this fallacy because they are used to resolving problems by making compromises and accepting alternative interpretations—unlike Russians, who are looking for the absolute truth.[5]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Fallacy: Middle Ground, The Nizkor Project (accessed 29 November 2012)
  2. ^ Internet encyclopedia of philosophy
  3. ^ Creating Scientific Controversies: Uncertainty and Bias in Science and Society, by David Harker, "Argument to moderation
  4. ^ Susan T. Gardner (2009). Thinking Your Way to Freedom: A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning. Temple University Press.
  5. ^ a b Vladimir Bukovsky, The Wind Returns. Letters by Russian Traveler (Russian edition, Буковский В. К. И возвращается ветер. Письма русского путешественника.) Moscow, 1990, ISBN 5-2350-1826-5, p. 345.

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