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Appeal to Fear

 

Disciplines Argument > Fallacies > Appeal to Fear

Description | Discussion | Example | See also

 

Description

X is presented. It causes fear. Therefore Y (which has some relationship to X) is true.

Mostly, this is done by some form of threat, which may be to the person or may be to something about which they care. The threat may be physical, emotional or spiritual.

Example

I know where you live, and I have friends who like a good fire...

Those who do not rejoice will burn in hell.

If Mike heard you saying that, he would not be very happy.

Discussion

Fear is a basic motivator that is used surprisingly often. The danger of using this is that it can also lead to other irrational emotions that can rebound upon the persuader, such as dislike and hate. Fear also results in people running away, but not always in the direction intended.

Fear appeals seldom gain more than compliance. Emotional and intellectual agreement will lag far behind and may never be gained (in fact opposing ideas may be strengthened).

Classification

Appeal, Relevance, Threat

Also known as

Ad Baculum, Ad Metum, Appeal to Force, Consequences, In Terrorem, Scare Tactics

See also

Fear, Fight-or-Flight Reaction

 

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