Archive for April, 2009

Slipping Down the Slope Toward Triads

April 9, 2009

Ryan Sayre Patrico writes the following in First Things (May 7, 2009):
If I hear one more person say that the slippery slope argument doesn’t apply to gay marriage, I’m gonna scream:
First came traditional marriage. Then, gay marriage. Now, there’s a movement combining both—simultaneously. …The Maui-based World Polyamory Association is pushing for the next frontier of less-traditional codified relationships. This community has even come up with a name for what the rest of the world generally would call a committed threesome: the “triad.”

Ryan Patrico speaks of the slippery slope argument as though it were an entirely reputable type of argument that may be legitimately applied to gay marriage. It is not, and it may not be. The slippery slope argument is considered a logical fallacy and is listed in all kinds of handbooks on logical thinking, bogus argumentation, and the like.  The fallacy of the slippery slope argument is in supposing that a single step in a particular direction will inevitably lead to the whole distance being covered. This may be true in the case of stepping off a cliff, but it is not true in other life situations where choices are still available after the initial step has been taken.

Consider the following argument: “If we lower the drinking age from 21 to 18, there will only be further demands to lower it to 16, and then to 14. Before we know it, our newborns will be drinking wine instead of milk.”

This argument, absurd on its face, is structurally and logically similar to the one Ryan Patrico has advanced, and yet most people would not be fooled by it. Why, then, should Patrico’s argument carry any weight? Well, it shouldn’t, and maybe it’s time for Mr. Patrico to just let out a scream. Then he can stop resorting to this bogus argument.

Note Mr. Patrico’s second and third sentences:

First came traditional marriage. Then, gay marriage.

So, it was traditional marriage that started this slide toward triads?