Argumentum ad baculum
: argument to the cudgel
or appeal to the stick
), also known as appeal to force
, is an argument where force
, or the threat of force
, is given as a justification for a conclusion
. It is a specific case of the negative form of an argument to the consequences
As a logical argument
A fallacious logical argument
based on argumentum ad baculum
generally has the following argument form
- If x does not accept P as true, then Q.
- Q is a punishment on x.
- Therefore, P is true.
- If you do not believe that Jesus is Lord, you will be denied entry into Heaven.
- Therefore, Jesus is Lord.
In other words, This is right because if you do not believe it, you will be harmed.
This form of argument is an informal fallacy, because the attack Q may not necessarily reveal anything about the truth value of the premise P. This fallacy has been identified since the Middle Ages by many philosophers. This is a special case of argumentum ad consequentiam, or "appeal to consequences".
- "I don't remember owing you any money. If I do not pay this supposed debt, you will beat me up and hurt my family. Therefore I do owe you some money."
- "God exists, because if you don't believe in him you will go to Hell."
- "Racism is wrong because it is against the law."
- "Our political views are right and you should agree with them, because if you do not we will put you in a Gulag."