At some point you’ve probably heard an opinion of yours about morality, religion, or politics summarily dismissed with a reaction like: “You only say that because you’re a _____!” or “That’s just an excuse for _______.” Frustrating, isn’t it? If you’ve supplied reasons for your position, they don’t tackle those reasons. They just assume you’re wrong and purport to explain, usually in terms unflattering to you, why you make your error. What many might not realize, however, is that this action is a fallacy known as Bulverism. The name was coined by C.S. Lewis in an essay included in his widely read collection God in the Dock. In essence, Bulverism is a toxic hybrid of two better-known fallacies: petitio principii (begging the question) and ad hominem (impugning one’s opponent’s character without addressing his argument).
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