Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fallacy of the week - No true Scotsman

No true Scotsman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
No true Scotsman, or the self-sealing fallacy, is a fallacy of equivocation and question begging. Its name was coined by philosopher Antony Flew in his 1975[dubious – discuss] book Thinking About Thinking – or do I sincerely want to be right?.

Imagine Hamish McDonald, a Scotsman, sitting down with his Glasgow Morning Herald and seeing an article about how the "Brighton Sex Maniac Strikes Again." Hamish is shocked and declares that "No Scotsman would do such a thing." The next day he sits down to read his Glasgow Morning Herald again and this time finds an article about an Aberdeen man whose brutal actions make the Brighton sex maniac seem almost gentlemanly. This fact shows that Hamish was wrong in his opinion but is he going to admit this? Not likely. This time he says, "No true Scotsman would do such a thing."
—Antony Flew, Thinking about Thinking, 1975

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