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Slipping on Slippery Slope Arguments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-419
JournalBioethics
Volume34
Issue number4
Early online date2 Mar 2020
DOIs
Accepted/In press26 Oct 2019
E-pub ahead of print2 Mar 2020
PublishedMay 2020

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King's Authors

Abstract

Slippery slope arguments (SSAs) are used in a wide range of philosophical debates, but are often dismissed as empirically ill-founded and logically fallacious. In particular, leading authors put forward a meta-SSA which points to instances of empirically ill-founded and logically fallacious SSAs and to the alleged existence of a slippery slope leading to such SSAs to demonstrate that people should avoid using SSAs altogether. In this paper, I examine these prominent calls against using SSAs and argue that such calls do not withstand scrutiny. I then identify several types of mechanisms leading to slippery slopes in real-life contexts to demonstrate that both the strength of SSAs and the justifiability of using SSAs are best assessed on a case-by-case basis. This result does not exempt the proponents of SSAs from the task of vindicating their use of SSAs. However, if correct, it undermines the often-made claim that people should avoid using SSAs altogether.

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