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Appeal To Force:

Also called:

Perhaps the crudest form of appeal, this is, quite simply, saying that "I am right, because I will hit anyone who disagrees with me with this large stick." Ad Baculum can be quite effective, nevertheless. Most commonly known by the phrase "Might makes right"; also sometimes expressed as "Changing a man's mind by altering the shape of his face."

It is important to note the distinction between a faulty argument and a threat in these cases. Appeal to Force may apply to both.

  • "A is true, because if you say it isn't I'll break your nose," is an invalid argument, and a logical fallacy.
  • "I'll break your nose if you say A is true," is a threat, not an argument; the speaker is not actually claiming that A is true or false.
  • "Do as I say, because I will hurt you if you don't" is an instruction and a threat, rather than an argument.

Each of the above cases may be described as Appeal to Force.

What is not a fallacy is "It's illegal so don't do it or you will go to jail." That is a statement of consequence that differs completely from whether something should be illegal. To say that one should be able to do something and not go to jail is a johnny-come-lately argument, usually invoked after they broke the law, whereas the proper time to make the arguments is when the law was being passed or else to get the law repealed. The only other option, in extreme cases, is to oppose the legitimacy of the entire social order.

Examples of Appeal to Force include:

Comic Books

  • At one point, Deadpool forces somebody to admit that Jar-Jar Binks is an affront to God at gun point.
    • After already killing the other guy, who had said he preferred the new trilogy to the original one. He wasn't kidding.


  • In the movie No Man's Land, the Bosnian and Serbian soldiers are arguing over whose country started the war, with the Bosnian eventually threatening the other with his gun to get him to agree. Later, the Serbian gains control of the gun and uses the opportunity to force the Bosnian to say that it was Bosnia who started it.


  • Aesop's Fables (and La Fontaine's retelling; and Krylov's retelling) feature this, usually with this scenario: Strongest wants to kill weakest, tries to preemptively rationalize it with Insane Troll Logic, fails, then kills weakest anyway.
  • In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Ishtar gets her father to create the Bull of Heaven (so she can terrorize Uruk because Gilgamesh turned her down) by threatening to start a Zombie Apocalypse.
    • Another legend involving Ishtar (Inanna) has her going down to the underworld to see her sister Ereshkigal, and the gatekeeper at first refuses to let her in (because the way she's ornately dressed tells him she's lying about being there for a funeral). She uses the Zombie Apocalypse threat there, too, and he lets her in (after consulting with Ereshkigal), on the condition that she remove her clothes and jewelry.

Live-Action TV

  • Jayne from Firefly referred to this as the Chain of Command. ("It's the chain I go get and beat you with 'til you understand who's in ruttin' command here!")

Newspaper Comics

  • This fallacy is often shown as one person saying to another "One good reason? I'll give you five good reasons" as they very obviously curl their fingers one by one into a fist, held under the other's nose. Charles Schultz used this image several times in various Peanuts strips, as well as A Charlie Brown Christmas, usually with Lucy using it against either Charlie Brown or Linus.


Real Life

  • Pretty much any totalitarian regime. Lysenkoist biology won out over Darwinism in the USSR because the former had the support of the state.

Video Games

Web Original

Western Animation

Looks like this fallacy but isn't

  • If the use of force is a logical or reasonably expected result of the action being argued, rather than a threat against the arguer. "If you shop at my competitor's store, I'll egg your house" is a threat. "If you invade Sparta, they'll kill a bunch of your soldiers" is a reasonable and logical result. This even applies when the outcome is rather extreme, for instance: "If Poland invaded Germany during the Cold War, the Soviet Union and United States would destroy the whole planet" is a perfectly defensible deduction.
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