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January 22, 2018 

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VOLUNTARY EXCHANGE: The process of willingly trading one item for another. The emphasis here is on "willingly." Voluntary exchanges are the heart and soul of market transactions, and should be contrasted with the "involuntary" exchanges mandated by government taxes, laws, and regulations. While involuntary government-forced exchanges play an important role in a mixed economy, economists really, really like voluntary market exchanges because they promote economic efficiency.

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FALLACY OF PERSONAL ATTACK:

The logical fallacy of arguing that something is bad because someone "associated" with the thing is ugly, has a funny nose, drives a foreign car, regularly watches daytime soap operas, or wears outdated clothing. This fallacy of personal attack runs rampant in the political arena. Some politicians promote the notion that only good people propose good policies, while bad people have bad policies. The fact of the matter is that good people propose bad policies and bad people propose good policies.
The fallacy of personal attack is often used to divert attention away from the issue at hand by focusing on irrelevant characteristics of people involved. The President proposes a tax increase to curb inflation. Rather than considering the merits of the policy, critics might erroneously argue that the policy is bad because the President once kicked his dog. The President might be a complete jerk, but this fact does not mean the tax increase is the wrong way to curb inflation.

Here is an example of the fallacy of personal attack:

  • Suppose Professor Grumpinkston argues that governments have several important functions to perform in a market-oriented economy, including national defense, public education, transportation, and controlling the money supply.

  • In rebuttal, Roland Nottingham calls the professor a tax-and-spend liberal, pinko, communist sympathizer who wants to dismantle the Bill of Rights and the free-enterprise system because he is a power-hungry demagogue who has no respect for American values or the game of baseball. Hence, anything the professor says about government functions is necessarily wrong.

  • Whether Professor Grumpinkston does or does not fit this description is irrelevant to the proper role of government in the economy. He could be a neo-fascist, anti-government, pro-market, ultra conservative; or a middle-of-the-road, wishy-washy, undecided, apathetic moderate; both of which are also irrelevant to the validity of government functions in a market-oriented economy.
Attacking the professor's political philosophy has nothing to do with the pros and cons of particular government activities. Each activity should be evaluated on its own merit.

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Recommended Citation:

FALLACY OF PERSONAL ATTACK, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2018. [Accessed: January 22, 2018].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | fallacies | fallacy of false authority | fallacy of false cause | fallacy of mass appeal | fallacy of division | fallacy of composition |


Or For A Little Background...

     | political views | economic thinking | government functions |


And For Further Study...

     | seven economic rules | four estates | sixth rule of ignorance | normative economics | economic science | world view |


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