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classification : informal – fallacy of distraction
Reductio ad absurdum is a mode of argumentation that seeks to establish a contention by deriving an absurdity from its denial.
Derived from the Latin, reduction to the absurd is a type of logical argument where one assumes a claim for the sake of argument and derives an absurd or ridiculous outcome, and then concludes that the original claim must have been wrong as it led to an absurd result.
There are three principal forms:
Sure my worthy opponent claims that we should lower tuition, but that is just laughable.
If that is true, then pigs can fly.
Keep the old warehouse intact until the new one is constructed. And build the new warehouse from the materials salvaged by demolishing the old.
Appeal to Mockery
The Horse Laugh
Appeal to Ridicule
The argumentum ad absurdum, or Reductio Ad Absurdum, is itself a valid argument, based on the principle that the introduction of the denial of the conclusion into a valid argument produces a contradiction and establishes the conclusion. This is widely used in mathematics and in natural argument.
The Reductio Ad Absurdum argument can be used logically so long as one understands what they are doing. The false use of it will usually occur when one assumes a limited initial premise to the claim.
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