Appeal to Consequence
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.
The lab leak theory of COVID-19 should be avoided because it could have negative consequences for relations with to China.
Scientists believed Covid leaked from Wuhan lab — but feared debate could hurt “international harmony”. Emails to Dr Anthony Fauci show “likely” explanation identified at start of coronavirus pandemic, but there were worries about saying so.Sarah Knapton for The Telegraph (January 11, 2022).
Of all the issues that have roiled ties between China and the West since the pandemic emerged, none has been more sensitive in Beijing than questions about the origin of Covid-19. … The results of the lab leak probe could tie the hands of Xi Jinping, particularly if they come before he has an opportunity to meet Biden at the Group of 20 summit in October. … The issue of the origin of the virus is deeply connected to the legitimacy of the CCP, so I do not expect that China will become more transparent — it will fight this relentlesslyIain Marlow and Dong Lyu, for Bloomberg News “Lab Leak Theory’s Revival Risks Making U.S.-China Relations Worse” (June 2, 2021).
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 uncertain or misguided. Including countervailing evidence will lower esteem for the sciences at the very time that we most desperately need young scientists to restore our competitive edge in technology.
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.
Identify the consequences and argue that what we want to be the case does not affect what is in fact the case.
On the appeal to consequences against cultural relativism.
On William James’ deference to consequences in The Varieties of Religious Experience.
Friedrich Nietzsche warned potential readers of his Anti-Christ that they must be entirely free of concern for the consequences of his ideas.