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Appeal To Tradition

October 8th, 2009

Appeal To Tradition ( argumentum ad antiquitatem )

classification : informal – fallacies of relevance

A thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition. The appeal takes the form of “this is right because we’ve always done it this way.”

Foundations

An appeal to tradition essentially makes two assumptions:

* The old way of thinking was proven correct when introduced. In actuality this may be false — the tradition might be entirely based on incorrect grounds.
* The past justifications for the tradition are still valid at present. In cases where circumstances have changed, this assumption may be false.

Examples

These rules were written 100 years ago and we have always followed them. Therefore, there is no need to change them.

We’ve been doing this for thirty years, and we’ve never had problems with it.

Our family has always voted Liberal, so you should vote Liberal.

Other Names

Proof from tradition
appeal to common practice or common belief
argumentum ad antiquitatem
false induction
“is/ought” fallacy

Note: The opposite of an appeal to tradition is an appeal to novelty, claiming something is good because it is new.

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