Warmonger’s Fallacies Exposed

A book “War! What is it Good For? Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots” by Ian Morris.
caused many cons like here and here. I analyze a pro. Actually, what I discovered was not a single argument in favor of war, but a fertile source of logical fallacies.


„ … just returned from California, … “
„ … I started at Stanford, then went to Davis.“
„ … I gave talks at Irvine and Riverside.“
„ … I also met with Ian Morris, the author of the widely acclaimed … he gave an invited lecture at Yale … “
„ … workshop I organized at Stanford on … The main proponents … at the workshop were Peter Richerson, David Sloan Wilson, and I. “

Fallacy: Appeal to authority.
Obvious to everyone I guess 🙂

„ … Morris argues that ‘the main function of war in cultural evolution across the past 15,000 years—and particularly across the past 500 years—has been to integrate societies, increasing material wellbeing.’ … the argument here is ‘over the long run.’ It goes without saying that wars created, and continue to create an enormous amount of human misery. … Thus, wars have not only a destructive side, but also a creative one.“

Fallacy: Straw man.
Though Peter successfully knocked down the straw man that over the short run war causes misery, it doesn’t prove anything about beneficial effects of war over the long run.

„ … I was soundly berated by one irate member of the audience … “

Fallacy: poisoning the well.
Declaring an counter argument irrational doesn’t say anything about the argument itself.

“ … several reviews from reputable commentators that I’ve seen were cautiously positive.”

Fallacy: celebrating the well (the opposite of poisoning the well).
Who says that those commentators are reputable. Where does their reputation derive from.

“Most people who react negatively to Ian’s book have not read it. … he hadn’t read the book. He explained that he disliked the title, … “

Fallacy: Hasty Generalization.
He met just one.


Fallacy: poisoning the well.
As this little anecdote is mentioned to discredit all critic.

Besides, the next paragraph contradicts:
“ … indicating lots of sales. … ”
People wouldn’t buy without reading, would they?


“You can be vegetarian, but it’s really hard to argue that humans would have evolved in to what they are if they had been herbivores.”

Fallacy: False analogy.
I think it is obvious to everyone.

“ … Would you not be interested in studying why slavery happens, why it still exists today, what could cause it to be more prevalent in the future, … ”

Fallacy: Red Herring.
What studying slavery has to do with justifying wars as engines of progress?

“But how can you disagree with a conclusion before studying something first?

You seem to have a closed mind where you find some conclusions objectionable before ever considering any evidence.”

Fallacy: Poisoning the well.
An accusation of the opponent being closely minded does not prove the initial argument

Besides this accusation was what the Red Herring was abused for.

“It seems that you are not very good with the liberal arts skills of critical reasoning and close reading.”

Fallacy: Personal Attack.
At this point eventually, the opponent realized that he was tricked and quitted the thread.

The Rest

What follows is several other rephrased Red Herrings, the main question being unanswered by anyone. Why war purportedly is more effective in promoting cooperation?

Creative Commons License

This work by Paul Netman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Fauceir theory is developed and © by Mato Nagel and available at www.fauceir.org.


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