I see now that it is not a fallacy. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it before, so I hedged and referred to it as “fallacy/reasoning”, in case one term was more right than the other
I realize that my initial example was incomplete. It did not account for a variable effect of pollution depending on existing environmental levels, ie. being above or below “pollution harm thresholds”. As has been pointed out, Person A willing to drive when pollution levels are low, and NOT willing to drive when pollution levels are high, is being inconsistent IF their primary argument for whether or not to drive is based on their absolute emissions contribution (otherwise, if they were anti-emissions, they would just never drive). Therefore, if Person A is consistent in their policy, there must be a deeper argument as to why they’re willing to drive in certain scenarios; yes to driving when environment is below threshold, no to driving when environment is above threshold (or some other unnamed reason). That was my missing link.
My original motivation for asking is because I’ve been recently questioning whether I’d follow my current policies, in different variations of our current world. I play around with different variables to see what has a large influence on my outlook.
The above example is an extension of the thought - “What would I do with my car if I relocated to NYC? It’s so polluted there already…”
More examples - I’m just blabbing on about my thoughts now:
“If I was going to get another dog today, I would adopt one from a shelter. But, what if we lived in a world where there was ONLY one shelter dog per state (due to responsible pet owners/breeders), instead of the thousands, like now?” - Would I base my decision on:
- Absolutes: “A dog saved is a dog saved, so yes, I’d still adopt from the shelter”)
- Relative to the situation, #1: “Sheltered dogs aren’t so much of a problem, so I will not adopt from the shelter, and I will buy a dog from a breeder instead. Besides, chances are high that someone else might adopt the lone dog”
- Relative to the situation, #2: “If I adopt this dog, I can reduce the number of homeless dogs by 100%, so heck yes I will!”
I do the same thing with:
- Voting (all sorts: political, as a shareholder, at work, etc.) Should I? My one vote seems so insignificant. At what population would I consider my vote significantly influential so that I would vote nearly 100% of the time?
- Eating meat. How poorly/inhumane would animals have to be raised/harvested for me to stop eating meat? How do I feel about the effects on the environment? Would it even make a difference if I stopped?