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Reductio ad Hitlerum
20 mai 2006
The term reductio ad Hitlerum (sometimes rendered reductio ad Hitlerem; whimsical Latin for "reduction to Hitler") was originally coined by University of Chicago professor and ethicist Leo Strauss. The phrase comes from the more well-known logical argument reductio ad absurdum. It is a variety of association fallacy. It may also be described as argumentum ad nazium.
The reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy is of the form "Adolf Hitler or the Nazi party supported X; therefore X must be evil". This fallacy is often effective due to the near-instant condemnation of anything to do with Hitler or the Nazis.

The fallacious nature of this argument is best illustrated by identifying "X" as something that Adolf Hitler or his supporters did promote but which is not considered evil — for example, X = "promoting expressways", X = "wearing khakis", X = "painting watercolors", or simply X = "breathing". Those policies advocated by Hitler and his party that are generally considered evil can all be condemned on other logically solid grounds. It may also be refuted through counterexamples:

Dwight Eisenhower, who despised Hitler's criminality, admired his Autobahnen and promoted the Interstate Highway System in the United States.
Hitler's arch-enemy Sir Winston Churchill also painted.
Non-violence proponent Mohandas Gandhi was also a vegetarian.
Many (in fact, most) people breathe every day.
The phrase appears in Strauss's writings in the 1950 Natural Right and History, Chapter II:

In following this movement towards its end we shall inevitably reach a point beyond which the scene is darkened by the shadow of Hitler. Unfortunately, it does not go without saying that in our examination we must avoid the fallacy that in the last decades has frequently been used as a substitute for the reductio ad absurdum: the reductio ad Hitlerum. A view is not refuted by the fact that it happens to have been shared by Hitler.
Sundry criminals, religious and political cranks, and tyrants other than Hitler could be used for the same purposes. For example, a reductio ad Stalinum could assert that corporal punishment of wayward children is necessary because Josef Stalin enacted its abolition, or that atheism is a dangerous philosophy because Stalin was an atheist.

This work is in the public domain


Re: Reductio ad Hitlerum
21 mai 2006
Reductio ad Collanadam.

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