The false dilemma fallacy, sometimes called the false dichotomy, occurs when the debator presents an either/or situation as though the two options were the only ones available, when in reality there is at least one more alternative.
This fallacy occurs frequently in nice, patriotic-sounding slogans, for example: "America: love it or leave it." It implies that if you are not 100% for every policy ever instituted by the American government, then you are not worthy to live there and ought to go somewhere else where your views would be better suited (say, Cuba). However, it is a false dilemma because unequivocal approval and unequivocal rejection are not the only options. It is possible, for example, to have a love for one's country, but a disapproval of the current administration. (Plus, the right to dissent is implicit in the Bill of Rights, meaning the dissenter can turn the tables on the debator: since apparently he disapproves of this Constitutional right, he should seek residence where he will find people more sympathetic with his views [say, Cuba].)
Here on the BVDB, the false dilemma occurs frequently whenever a KJV-onlyist makes an all-or-nothing claim concerning the Bible, to the effect that if you do not wholeheartedly approve of every particular wording of the King James Version, you reject it completely. Fallacymeister Brent Riggs, a/k/a "Mitex," expresses the false dilemma thusly in a post titled "'No matter how anyone would answer'?":
It would also show your UNBELIEF of what you call the word of God - the AV. And yes, by saying that any portion of the word of God (AV) is NOT THE WORD OF GOD that my dear sister IS AN ATTACK on the word of God (AV).
Note the all-or-nothing tone of Mitex' claim: either you accept the exact wording of the AV unequivocally, or you are "attacking" the Word of God and in a state of "unbelief." There are, of course, other alternatives:
And so Mitex' all-or-nothing approach breaks down.
- There does exist an exact, inerrant Word of God somewhere but it isn't in the KJV (i.e. Mitex is right in principle, but he is barking up the wrong tree).
- The KJV is precisely the inerrant Word of God in selected places (e.g. Genesis); however, something else is the inerrant Word of God in Exodus, Leviticus, etc.
- The KJV is precisely the Word of God except in those particular places where there is a variant reading.
Point out that the alternatives are not exhaustive, and suggest plausible alternatives that fit none of the offered categories.Take care,Scott
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Scott A. McClare, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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