421 conceptual slippery slope it may be true that

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Biology: Concepts and Applications
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Chapter 37 / Exercise 12
Biology: Concepts and Applications
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4.2.1 Conceptual slippery slope It may be true that there is no essential difference between 499 grains of sand and 500 grains of sand. But even if that is so, it doesn’t follow that there is no difference between 1 grain of sand and 5 billion grains of sand. In general, just because we cannot draw a distinction between A and B, and we cannot draw a distinction between B and C, it doesn’t mean we cannot draw a distinction between A and C. Here is an example of a conceptual slippery slope fallacy. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol. But there is no difference between someone who is 21 and someone who is 20 years 11 months old. So there is nothing wrong with someone who is 20 years and 11 months old drinking. But since there is no real distinction between being one month older and one month younger, there shouldn’t be anything wrong with drinking at any age. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with allowing a 10 year old to drink alcohol. Imagine the life of an individual in stages of 1 month intervals. Even if it is true that there is no distinction in kind between any one of those stages, it doesn’t follow that there isn’t a distinction to be drawn at the extremes of either end. Clearly there is a difference between a 5 year old and a 25 year old—a distinction in kind that is relevant to whether they should be allowed to drink alcohol. The conceptual slippery slope fallacy assumes that because we cannot draw a distinction between adjacent stages, we cannot draw a distinction at all between any stages. One clear way of illustrating this is with color. Think of a color spectrum from purple to red to orange to yellow to green to blue. Each color grades into the next without there being any distinguishable boundaries
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Biology: Concepts and Applications
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Chapter 37 / Exercise 12
Biology: Concepts and Applications
Starr/Evers
Expert Verified
Chapter 4: Informal fallacies 196 between the colors—a continuous spectrum. Even if it is true that for any two adjacent hues on the color wheel, we cannot distinguish between the two, it doesn’t follow from this that there is no distinction to be drawn between any two portions of the color wheel, because then we’d be committed to saying that there is no distinguishable difference between purple and yellow! The example of the color spectrum illustrates the general point that just because the boundaries between very similar things on a spectrum are vague, it doesn’t follow that there are no differences between any two things on that spectrum. Whether or not one will identify an argument as committing a conceptual slippery slope fallacy, depends on the other things one believes about the world. Thus, whether or not a conceptual slippery slope fallacy has been committed will often be a matter of some debate. It will itself be vague. Here is a good example that illustrates this point.

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