There has been enough chatter recently about the Obama campaign’s recent “One Chance” advertisement praising President Obama’s decision to set SEAL Team Six on its way while casting doubt that Mitt Romney would have made the same decision that readers can easily find their own links to both the video and commentary on the matter.
The reason behind Arianna Huffington’s refreshing condemnation of the ad as “despicable”, also widely available, brings us to the real point of the post, what we might call the Future Subjunctive Fallacy, that is, that one simply cannot argue logically in the present on the basis of subjunctive suppositions of what might – or might not – happen at some yet non-existent future time, particularly in a realm as far removed from our so-far comfortably predictable world of empirical natural expectations as politics and human interactions.
And yet, in the last decade or so, maybe even longer, the Future Subjunctive Fallacy has become the dominant sloppy pretense to logical argument du jour: liberals yadda-yadda-yadda, because “you know conservatives would…” [no, we actually do not yet know any such thing]; conservative Christians yadda-yadda-yadda, because “you know proponents of [X] would…” [no, we actually do not yet know any such thing]; Kermit the Frog yadda-yadda-yadda, because “you know Miss Piggy would…” [no, we actually do not yet know any such thing].
The Future Subjunctive Fallacy: if you use it, it will only make you look stupid, not convincing.
H. M. Stuart