Recently on a Facebook thread I made a joke that along with the other logical fallacies out there, libertarians should add another that we are uniquely confronted with over and over again: the Tin Man fallacy. Now, originally I was joking… but I’m kinda serious, actually.
It’s sort of a take on the ‘straw man fallacy’ in which a person attempts to debate not the actual arguments their opponents are making, but rather an easy to defeat caricature. The debater first builds the straw man, for instance, by saying a libertarian is against education, when the actual libertarian is simply against state funding of education. The debater then knocks down this fictitious ‘anti-education’ libertarian straw man by making easy arguments against this mischaracterized position and everyone who’s not really interested in debating the nuances and complexities that most libertarians derive their actual position from goes “Yeah! What fools those libertarians are! What type of sick person could be against education?”.
THE TIN MAN FALLACY
To my mind, ‘straw man’ = ‘scarecrow’ and ‘scarecrow’ = ‘Wizard of Oz’, so I thought, “Hey, the Tin Man should get a fallacy, too!“.
The ‘Tin Man Fallacy’ is rooted in the assumption that one’s opponent, often a libertarian, has no heart. Unlike the straw man fallacy, in which the debater needs to mischaracterize their opponent’s position, the tin man fallacy allows the debater to build a sturdy looking, if hollow, general facsimile of their opponent’s position (“You are against state mandated universal health care?”), but not give him a heart (“Then you don’t care about poor people who don’t have access to affordable, quality insurance, or people with pre-existing conditions!! You heartless monster! WHY DO YOU HATE THE POOR?!”).
Anyway… that’s it. Much like the favored short hand of ‘you’re arguing against a straw man’, libertarians everyone can now enjoy the short hand of stating ‘you’re arguing against a tin man!’, when confronted with these outrageously inaccurate and offensive accounts of libertarianism. From places like, ya know, Salon.com.
Now if only the 4 or 5 people who actually read my blog start using it, we’ll be all set!