Day 93 — False Dilemma

The fallacy of the false dilemma is one that you may find yourself up against in a ‘black or white’ scenario — the idea that you only have a limited amount of choices and no ‘shades of grey’ between them.

One classic example is the ‘you’re either with me or against me’ argument, which doesn’t leave the respondent an opportunity to propose an alternative! This kind of false dilemma has you stuck between two choices (a false dichotomy), but there could be three choices (or four, or so on). There may also be a claim that the choices available are completely opposing, when in fact you’re being provided with similar opportunities, and that you only can choose one.

This kind of fallacy depends on presupposing that there’s limitations on what you can do, and in making that kind of argument, it attempts to silence a critic by restraining their response. In challenging this kind of fallacy, it’s important to look at what exactly is being suggested in the opponent’s argument and if there’s really restrictions in making an adequate riposte.

Further Resources:

Fallacy — False Dilemma