"If everyone thought that way..."[Kind of fallacy]

What fallacy is that statement? Irrelevant conclusion, since it’s a useless and impossible If? I’m tired of people telling me to vote because “if everyone thought that way”, we’d have anarchy. I’d like to have a name for the fallacy and call them out on it. So far I’ve just been saying “You shouldn’t have come here today. If everyone thought that way, it’d be crowded in here. Better not drive down I-whatever, or wear that shirt, or sit in that chair. Things would be bad if everyone wanted to do it that way.”

It’s not necessarily fallacious reasoning. Read up on the tragedy of the commons.

It’s called the Categorical Imperative, but it’s not usually considered a fallacy.

Edited thread title to give better idea of subject.

If everyone thought the way you did, we wouldn’t need descriptive thread titles. :wink:

General Questions Moderator

also sounds kind of slippery slopish

Who cares if you can give it a particular label? It sounds like, for your situation, the proper reply to “Well, if everyone thought that way…” is “But they don’t, so it looks like I’m safe.” Or just the sort of responses you’ve been giving. Or extended discussion of just what it the problem is with that method of argument. That’s much more effective than trotting out “Aha! You have succumbed to The Fallacy of the Morchivicated Exponential; one point for me.” will be.

Hypothetical Generalization?

And then read up on the tragedy of the anti-commons.

I always respond

‘then I’d be a damn fool to think any other way.’
thanks Joe!

In the example of not voting, the statement doesn’t seem fallacious; it rather just seems like a criticism of free riding. The other examples are not examples of free riding, since no socially desirable effect is to be produced by everyone using the same road, or wearing the same shirt (which distinguishes these from voting, recycling, conservation, etc.).

And is again distinguished from something like everyone driving on the same side of the road, where, unlike the free rider situation, there are negative effects for the individual acting differently.

I’m with you, it is almost certainly a popularized form of the categorical imperative, but to the extent that one can apply just that reasoning without making a lot of other Kantian or maybe just deontic assumptions and have it be considered valid is a question far outside the scope of GQ.

I have never heard this kind of reasoning described as a fallacy, no matter what one’s opinion on Kant is; and I am not sure how it could ever be considered a fallacy. The person is not asserting that everyone does think this way, but is using the hypothetical situation of elevating something to a universal law as a means of judging the soundness of the rule in the first place.

I call it Yossarian’s Law, from this exchange from Catch-22:

Yossarian-“Let somebody else get killed.”
Somebody else I don’t remember-“But suppose everybody on our side felt that way.”
Yossrian-“Then I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn’t I?”

kind of reminds me of the southern baptist church i attended, where the pastor said “homosexuality, taken to its logical conclusion, means the complete eradication of the human race in one generation.”

don’t know if it’s a recognized fallacy, but something doesn’t have to be labeled a fallacy to be idiotic.

It was Clevinger, IIRC