Since writing this post about how Christians are accused of resorting to the slippery slope fallacy when arguing against homosexuality, I’ve wanted to post some examples about what actual slippery slopes look like. I finally got the gumption to seek out a certain ad campaign that made a meme out of slippery slope arguments, which turned out to be by DirectTV.
Just as a reminder, the Fallacy Files defines the slippery slope in this way:
If A happens, then by a gradual series of small steps through B, C,…, X, Y, eventually Z will happen, too.
Z should not happen.
Therefore, A should not happen, either.
The Fallacy Files also has this to say about the slippery slope:
This type of argument is by no means invariably fallacious, but the strength of the argument is inversely proportional to the number of steps between A and Z, and directly proportional to the causal strength of the connections between adjacent steps. If there are many intervening steps, and the causal connections between them are weak, or even unknown, then the resulting argument will be very weak, if not downright fallacious.
As you can see, the commercials lampoon slippery slope arguments by having many steps with weak causal connections between them, making them “very weak, if not downright fallacious.”
On the other hand, the case for polygamy – which Christians are mocked as appealing to the slippery slope for even bringing up – sits on entirely the same ground as that of “gay marriage,” as proven by the favorable decision granted to the Brown family of Utah (of Sister Wives fame). Their argument “relied primarily on the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the Texas law banning sodomy, which was celebrated by gay rights advocates.”
All this is just to say: do not be cowed into silence by the slippery slope accusation. Know your fallacies, and be ready to explain to others why this argument is not a fallacious slippery slope.