Perfectionist Fallacy Definition Critical Thinking

Chapter 6: Glossary.

This glossary follows the organization of the textbook and other areas of this Web site and contains short definitions for all the important terms and concepts from the chapter. You will also find hyperlinks to Websites relevant to the study of these terms and concepts. You should employ good critical thinking when evaluating the merit of any information you find on the World Wide Web, including what you find by following these links.

Ad hominem:  This sort of pseudoreasoning rejects a claim on the basis of its source.  The varieties of this fallacy share a confusion between the truth of a claim under discussion and the person or group who put it forward.

Personal Attack:  This form of ad hominem maligns a person in order to dismiss the person's beliefs.

Circumstantial Ad Hominem: This version of as hominem reduces what someone says to the beliefs of a group that a person belongs to.

Poisoning the Well:  This ad hominem impugns a person's character even before they say anything.

Genetic Fallacy:  This broadest form of ad hominem rejects a claim solely on the grounds of its source, its origins, or its associations.

Burden of Proof:  The type of pseudoreasoning called inappropriate burden of proof places the burden of proof more heavily on one side of an issue than it should.

Appeal to Ignorance:  This variety of the burden of proof fallacy which calls a claim true simply because it has not been proven false or false because it has not been proven true.

Straw Man:  This form of pseudoreasoning consists in arguing against a distorted or simplified version of what someone has said, and treating the argument as if it brought down what the person really did say.

False Dilemma:  This type of pseudoreasoning argues that there are only two alternatives in a given situation when, in fact, there are more than two.

Perfectionist Fallacy:  This form of pseudoreasoning uses a false dilemma in a particular way, first assuming that the only two options for action are its perfect success and nothing, and then rejecting anything that will not work perfectly.

Line Drawing Fallacy:  This fallacy uses false dilemmas in dealing with vague concepts: If your cannot draw a line to demarcate the edge of the concept, it is dismissed as hopelessly unclear.

Slippery Slope:  This type of pseudoreasoning predicts that if one thing happens, or is permitted to happen, another clearly undesirable thing will eventually result.

Begging the Question:  This form of pseudoreasoning attempts to defend a claim by using the claim itself.  This is also known as circular reasoning.

Pseudoreasoning Web Links:

  • Legal Reasoning: Using the Central Concepts of Basic Logic:  Extensive discussion of the topic.
  • SoYouWanna avoid common logical errors?:  Informative, easy to read article about the different types of errors in logic. 
  • The Atheism Web: Logic & Fallacies:  Article on the Atheism Web that states in its introduction "[t]here's a lot of debate on the net. Unfortunately, much of it is of very low quality. The aim of this document is to explain the basics of logical reasoning, and hopefully improve the overall quality of debate."
  • The Logical Fallacies: Table of Contents:  Stephen Downes' Guide to the Logical Fallacies, comprehensive and easy to use.
  • Logical Argument Construction:  In the context of discussing how to construct a logical argument, this site has a good list of fallacies and their explanations and examples.
  • A list of logical fallacies:  Just that, a list with descriptions and examples.
  • Brian Yoder's Fallacy Zoo:  Brian says of his site, "In my various debates on the net and otherwise, I find that a great portion of the time when I accuse an opponent of fallacious reasoning he is either entirely unfamiliar with the fallacy I mention, isn't thoroughly convinced the fallacy is a bad thing, or thinks he knows what the fallacy is but is mistaken...So to fight this kind of thing I have captured here for your enjoyment and edification a fine collection of classic fallacies known for their error throughout the ages."
  • Fallacies:  Very easy to use, extensive listing of fallacies, including examples and a general introduction to the subject, written by Dr. Michael C. Labossiere and hosted at the Nizkor site.
  • Mission: Critical Main Menu (Arguments and Fallacies)

Also called the Continuum Fallacy. This is a variation of the False Dilemma Fallacy. 

This fallacy presents the alternatives as: Either there is a precise line to be drawn, or else there is no line to be drawn (no difference) between one end of the line and the other.


JOhn is not rich. If someone gives him one dollar, he is not going to become rich. If he is given two dollars, he is not going to become rich. So how many ever dollars he is given he is never going to be rich. What if we were to give him twenty million dollars one by one very quickly? Of course, he would become rich. But since we cannot point to the precise dollar that makes him rich, he can never get rich (so the fallacy)

Lets say Prasad is not bald now. If he loses one hair, he will not get bald. If he loses one more hair after that, the loss of the second hair does not make him bald. Therefore how many every hairs he loses, he can never be called bald. The crux of the argument is that if we are unable to precisely define after losing how many hairs Prasad can be called bald, Prasad can never be called bald




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