How to identify and evaluate the Slippery Slope Argument

Martina Juříková


The article examines The Slippery Slope Argument and the question of how it should be identified and evaluated. The Slippery Slope Argument is used in practical thinking and dialogue, it's structure corresponds to the negative argument from consequences. In principle it has a defeasible nature and is often effective in an effort to transfer the burden of proof to the opponent. Slippery Slope Argument evaluation is based on the context of the dialogue rather than on evaluation of it's deductive or inductive validity.

The article presents four types of this argument: At first The Sorites Slippery Slope Argument, whose designation refers to the sorites paradox or so called paradox of the heap. The Sorites Slippery Slope argument is in it's essence combination of the ad absurdum argument and polyzeteseos sophism. Secondly, The Causal Slippery Slope, which is based on prediction of the series of events. This type of argument is often designated as domino theory or domino effect. Nevertheless, whatever the designation may be, the fact is the prediction of a future state of things is vital for its identification, analysis and evaluation. This prediction can be more or less plausible and based on weak or strong assumptions. Thirdly, The Precedent Slippery Slope Argument which is often used in discussions regarding the possibility of change of some current rule or a valid standard. Precedent based arguments are generally associated with inferring on the basis of some specific case. The Precedent Slippery Slope Argument uses the similarities among the different cases and is therefore based on analogy. And finally, the fourth one is The Full or Combined Slippery Slope Argument.


Slippery Slope Argument; fallacy; Douglas Walton; reasonable argument

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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
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