Also known as argumentum ad consequentiam, in this form of argument the author points to the disagreeable consequences of holding a particular belief in order to show that this belief is false. “In an argumentum ad consequentiam the premises deal only with the consequences that are likely to ensue from accepting the conclusion, and not with its truth. Logically speaking, it is entirely irrelevant that certain undesirable consequences might derive from the rejection of a thesis, or certain benefits accrue from its acceptance.” (Rescher, 1964, p. 82.) By this description, the appeal to consequence would be categorized as a fallacy of irrelevance.
- You cannot support the critical teaching of well-established scientific theories like Evolution because it will lead to the perception that the scientific enterprise is corrupt or misguided and will thereby lower esteem for and interest in the sciences at the very time that we most desperately need able young scientists to restore our competitive edge in technology.
- You must believe in God, for otherwise life would have no meaning. (Perhaps, but it is equally possible that since life has no meaning that God does not exist.)
- "Vegetarianism is an injurious and unhealthy practice. For if all people were vegetarians, the economy would be seriously affected, and many people would be thrown out of work." (Rescher, 1964.)
- "Second, there could be no free will without a soul. Physical machines operate completely by their programming and external forces in nature. Thus, human choices are the results of genetic makeup and brain chemistry. There is no center of consciousness that can make reasoned decisions. This raises a few difficult questions for those who deny the reality of the soul: How can we hold people morally accountable for their actions if they were not freely chosen? How does love have any meaning if choices are fatalistically determined by physical processes? If we deny the existence of the soul, then free will is merely an illusion." (McDowell, "Is there Any Evidence for the Soul?", 2008) However disagreeable it may be if we do not have free will and could not sustain moral accountability, this consequence does not imply the existence of the soul without also establishing that we do in fact have free will. This argument, though, could be construed as: if you believe in moral accountability, then you should also believe in free will. And, if free will, then also the existence of the soul, because matter is intrinsically deterministic.
- "The United States had justice on its side in waging the Mexican war of 1848. To question this is unpatriotic, and would give comfort to our enemies by promoting the cause of defeatism." (Rescher, 1964, p. 82.)