Scott Tibbs

The Fallacy of Division in political arguments

By Scott Tibbs, February 11, 2020

How can I be guilty of "fatal hypocrisy" for a policy position I not only do not hold, but actively oppose? Obviously, that is impossible, but you would be surprised how many times I am accused of "hypocrisy" for a stand I take because a majority of my fellow Republicans and/or conservatives hold a different position. (I have some views that diverge from a significant number of conservatives and/or Republicans, usually when I take a more libertarian stance.)

For example, I was falsely accused of "fatal hypocrisy" in a May 2002 letter to the editor. I had written a letter opposing funding for Planned Parenthood, and I was a "hypocrite" because of efforts to give vouchers to private Christian schools or to give government grants to "faith based" charities. Of course, the charge was false, because I oppose both of those things and have opposed them for decades.

With government money comes government strings, and those strings will eventually be used as leverage (and are right now being used as leverage) to force Christian schools and Christian charities to abandon critical doctrines of the Christian faith. It is better to not take the money, and the state will have no power to coerce you into choosing between your faith and the money you have become addicted to.

The logical fallacy here is the fallacy of division. If a larger group (Republicans or conservatives) holds a position on policy, it must follow that every single Republican and/or conservative holds that position. Right? Wrong. Within any large group, there will be some disagreement and diversity of opinion. While general assumptions are reasonable (for example, most Republicans are anti-abortion) accusations of "hypocrisy" are dishonest unless the accuser can present specific evidence of "hypocrisy" on a particular subject.

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