How Slippery is the Slope?
“There is no ‘slippery slope’ toward loss of liberties, only a long staircase where each step downward must first be tolerated by the American people and their leaders.” Alan K. Simpson. The essay, Chapter 6: The Slippery Slope, is a break down on how ineffective and illogical the slippery slope fallacy is in an argument against gay marriage. Initially it presents the counter which is the slippery slope essay, and then it breaks it down by four categories being; (1) slipping to absurdity, (2) slipping the other way, (3) slippery slopes in general, (4) concept of choice. Within this essay it undoubtedly does a good job of disproving this counter argument through the authors ability to use pathos, logos, and ethos in a coherent and commendable way.
The first category discusses how absurd it is to assume that if gay marriage was legalized then eventually polygamy, incestuous, and even pedophiliac marriages would all have to be legalized. In the second category it is a reminder that the slopes can slip in more direction, so their theory could back fire and the slope could slip into more support for not only the LGBT community, but also for those who are mentally handicapped and those with sexually transmitted diseases. As the third category states slippery slopes in general are a bad idea and are illogical and the fourth category recognizes that states, “in addition to the aforementioned reasons, a distinction between gay marriages and polygamous and incestuous marriages can be made based on the concept of “choice.”
This fallacy is extremely weak in any sort of intellectual debate because the tactic of it is to fly off into a many other situations that are, more often than not, ridiculous and do not usually relate specifically to the “top of the slope” issue, and this essay is a good argument showing the flaws in the slippery slope argument against legalizing gay marriage.
Logos was a heavy factor in this argumentative essay. The author uses logos to debate the logic of the slippery slope argument, which in and of itself, is a very illogical argument tactic and the author knows that so it uses that as the main way to attack it. A prime example of this use of logos is in the third category called slippery slopes in general and the author said, “It is disingenuous, and callous, to treat any potential change as part of some seamless process of an alleged disintegration of an institution.” That being said, that iss not the only example of the author using logos to argue the counter, there is a plethora of logos used throughout the essay such as this excerpt, “The very notion is manifestly ridiculous. Gay marriage is a legal and moral issue distinct from these others, and it as best disingenuous to argue that its legalization will force the government to recognize the sanctity of a human bond with an animal or a dead person.”
In any debate or argument dealing with civil rights are very pathos-centric, because how can one not be emotional when dealing with the rights of human beings? It is incredibly important to appeal to those emotions which are very powerful tools in persuasion and can attract the proper audience and if the emotions are strong enough it can persuade the counter’s side too. “If you haven’t figured it out by now, slippery slopes don’t usually have much logical sway. Usually, they can be outright dismissed on their face,” using sentences like this and like this, “Marriage has evolved for the better many times over the years, and will likely evolve even further in years to come,” are great ways to add a bit of emotional impact on the audience. Also the other sources they use, such as the quote from Andrew Sullivan, help add more emotional impact because what the quotes says.
Ethos is also an integral part of this essay, without credibility then the argument has no foundation and gives the audience no reason to believe in the author. The major way that the author uses ethos is through the style of their writing, it’s very academically put together and very formally, which not a lot of essays on this subject on the internet are. There is cited sources and very formal language used; you could even say that the authors use of more intellectual vocabulary might also be an additive to their credibility. The citations they use in this article really help with the authors credibility, because they are linked in so if anyone were to try and dispute what was said to be cited they could go directly to the source and that is massive credibility points. Inversely, the lack of too much ethos is also a major part of this essay. If it were to have too much emotional continent not only would it seem less formal thus less credible, it would also turn off those who are apart of the counter to the gay rights movement by making them feel bad or making them angry because the authors use of emotional content.
So in the end it appears as though the slope is not so slippery after all, the counter arguments author failed to recognize how this logical fallacy is almost laughed at when brought to a serious argument. It has no foothold, it basically only existing to exist and should not be taken seriously by anyone with half a brain. It is imperative to realize that opposition only uses this method in a last ditch effort to coax the deep end into believing their side over the other, but it’s also important that in any argument both side can, and may resort to using this argumentative tactic no matter how fallacious and ignorant it appears. The author made solid, valid, and most importantly, logical points to break down the other argument showing how ridiculous it really was to try and use the “slippery slope” style.