The if some then all fallacy

Presumably there’s a more formal name for this. If some people, some part of a class of them, do this then to assume that all do is a fallacy.

That welfare queen turning up in a Cadillac to collect her checks doesn’t mean all on welfare are shamming it – only that one has done so. That one adult make became happier when spayed does not mean that all teenage girls who – currently – desire their tits flayed off will be forever happier.

So, what is that more formal name for the fallacy? Assuming that because one then all? Fallacy of generalisation?

17 thoughts on “The if some then all fallacy”

  1. Sorta like how they’ve been telling us for years that if a Muslim extremist opens fire or detonates a bomb in a public place, while shouting Allahu Akbar, that it was just that one person who did the thing, and we can’t blame Islam because it’s the religion of peace, can’t infer anything about the religion just because one guy who happens to be part of the religion decided to act up? They’re all very keen to make sure no one commits this type of fallacy in that situation…

  2. I believe the word is “stereotyping” , which is seen as a Great Sin, unless it’s done for the Good Cause.

  3. A man raped somebody, therefore men, generically and universally, are rapists.
    A muslim chap killed loads of concert-goers, therefore uurgh aghh ….. LOST CARRIER

  4. The thing about Islam is that the religion really is pretty nasty and vile and it leads pretty logically toward murdering those who don’t believe in it. The nice muslims are the ones who either don’t know anything much about their religion or do know but choose to ignore the nasty bits. Christianity has historically been just as bad. It is in their scriptures that belief in Christ is the only way to get to Heaven and to avoid burning in hell for eternity. Logically the heathens need to be converted whether they like it or not, for their own good. Again, the nice Christians are the ones that ignore the stuff in their big rather nasty book.

  5. Stonyground, the Christian does believe that the only salvation is via belief in Jesus Christ, not so much about burning in hell as the alternative. Christians also believe, after Paul, that it is their duty to spread the good news to all mankind. However, we believe that God’s grace is freely offered and is not compulsory. We would like you to believe but it’s your choice if you don’t. Islam on the other had is a good bit more militant i.e. “believe or else”

  6. A quote by Steven Runciman(from a history of the Crusades I think): “Whilst Christianity came preaching a peace it never quite achieved, islam came brandishing a sword”. mo gained about 150 followers when he was trying to spread islam by preaching to people (Mecca). They kicked him out. From Medina he gained control over the Arabian peninsula within ten years when he used the sword.

  7. ‘ However, we believe that God’s grace is freely offered and is not compulsory. We would like you to believe but it’s your choice if you don’t. Islam on the other had is a good bit more militant i.e. “believe or else”’

    Christianity did that almost from its birth didn’t it… otherwise where did all those martyrs – both Catholic and Protestant – come from? From the early days of Saxon England, Pagans were persecuted and forced to convert or else.

    Saint Thomas Moore, for example, when he was Henry’s Chancellor used the agents of the State to hunt down any who published or distributed the Bible – Protestants – or parts thereof in English, tortured them for information and had them burnt. He got his head chopped off because he failed to accept ‘God’s grace’ as offered by Henry.

    In France, Protestants were persecuted, resulting in flight of the Huguenots to England. Then there were the English religious nuts – Puritans et al – who smashed up chapels and churches, attacked clergy who were not doing Christianity ‘properly’. Fortunately they decamped to the New World where their descendants carry on the good work.

    There are a number of reasons why Christianity calmed itself down, not least the sectarian tit-for-tat pogroms.

    God’s grace has never been freely offered, it’s just a matter of what those ‘offering’ it can get away with and how much they can impose it on others.

  8. John B, you have me thinking of the conversion of Constantine. I didn’t think he was exactly shy about using the sword.

  9. I agree with Arthur Dent but John B does raise a valid point. The message of salvation in Christianity is through a choice, it is what is in the heart that matters, not what is said, so conversion at the end of the sword really isn’t theologically productive. When JC was arrested one of the disciples cut off a servants ear with his sword, and Jesus rebuked the disciple and healed the mans ear – or as Chris put it he did have something to say against the use of violence in his name.

    However regrettably Christianity and politics have got intertwined badly throughout history and Christianity has been used in the name of gaining control, power, or defining ‘them and us’.

    Being honest, I’ve also always thought that if I were so inclined and had an impressionable disciple it wouldn’t be hard to de-emphasis certain passages (‘that part only applies to other Christians’) and emphasis other passages (particularly from the old testament) in order to radicalise someone in a similar way that happens with Islamic extremists. Sadly other people historically (and now) have been so inclined and have found appropriate adherents to do terrible things supposedly in Christ’s name.

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