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The Inconsistency Fallacy: Definition & Examples

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christine Serva

Christine is an instructional designer, educator, and writer with a particular interest in the social sciences and American studies.

This lesson explores the fallacy of inconsistency and provides examples of this flawed argument. You'll learn how to identify when someone is using this approach and why it's problematic.

Inconsistency Fallacy Introduction

'Always speak your mind; that's my motto,' your friend says confidently. 'That's the way to get what you want in life.'

You think about your friend's argument, and you see the point he's making. You agree, to some extent, and start to discuss what you think about his claim. Your friend cuts you off mid-sentence and says, 'You've really got to listen to others in order to make progress in this world. It's important to remain quiet most of the time and take in all that's around you.' In this lesson, we'll look at what was going on with your friend's aggravating argument and how this is a flaw in many arguments, a fallacy known as inconsistency.

Inconsistency Fallacy Definition

The inconsistency fallacy is an argument that includes a contradiction. The argument is flawed due to the fact that two distinct beliefs are both promoted. In other words, the claims are inconsistent with one another. When your friend argues that speaking your mind is a good way to live, he is promoting the idea that discussing ideas is valuable and that sharing your thoughts is worthwhile. Yet his next statement was quite a different claim altogether, that you need to stay quiet and just listen most of the time. Some combination of these ideas makes sense, perhaps combining confidence in speaking your mind with listening when appropriate. Yet, your friend is actively suggesting that both are 'the right way to live' without recognizing the inconsistencies between the two ideas, which are somewhat opposed. The fallacy could be used by mistake, as your friend has done, or it could be on purpose to confuse the issues and sound convincing.

Inconsistency Fallacy Examples

Here are some examples of faulty logic using the inconsistency fallacy. See if you can spot the two different beliefs being promoted in each statement.

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