Developments in Logic

James Taranto describes the inverse of the infamous but useful reductio ad Hitlerum:

It is the inverse of the usual reductio ad Hitlerum, which consists in falsely using a Nazi comparison to make an opponent or a position look evil. Obama is a great orator; Hitler was a great orator, too. Canada uses the metric system; Nazi Germany used the metric system, too. Bush . . . well, we were never quite sure what the point of comparison was supposed to be there, but by the time George W. Bush left office, the Hitler analogy had been almost as devalued as the Papiermark.

Cohen’s fallacy–call it the reductio ad non Hitlerum–consists in falsely diminishing an evil by dwelling on its differences with Nazi Germany. Cohen observes that “Iran has not waged an expansionary war in more than two centuries,” that Iran’s regime does not “require the complete subservience of the individual to the state” or “tolerate only one party to which all institutions are subordinated,” and even–we swear we are not making this up–that the regime does not operate with “trains-on-time Fascist efficiency.”


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