False Dilemma Fallacy

Also known as “false dichotomy”

“You either support us or you support them.”

There are two ways of committing the false dilemma fallacy.

First, you can present two options as being mutually exclusive when they are not. For example, “We must choose between economic growth and protecting the environment.

Second, you can present two options as being the only options, ignoring other alternatives. For example, in the example “You either support us or you support them”, a viable option is to support neither.

If someone says something along the lines of “It’s either A or B”, some valuable questions to ask are:

  • Could A and B both be correct (or partially correct)?
  • Could there be a C?

If the answer to either of these questions is “yes”, you now have more options to consider.

False dilemmas add unreasonable constraints to a discussion and recognizing them can help you to protect yourself from manipulation.

Back to the Logical Fallacy Handbook