Perfect solution fallacy

The perfect solution fallacy is a logical fallacy that occurs when an argument assumes that a perfect solution exists and/or that a solution should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist after it was implemented.

Presumably, if no solution is perfect, then no solution would last very long politically once it had been implemented. Still, many peopleFact|date=November 2007 (notably utopians)Fact|date=November 2007 seem to find the idea of a perfect solution compelling, perhaps because it is easy to imagine.

Examples:

: These anti-drunk driving ad campaigns are not going to work. People are still going to drink and drive no matter what.: Rebuttal- "Although the ads will not prevent every single instance of drunk driving, it would reduce the rate enough to make the policy worthwhile."

: Seat belts are a bad idea. People are still going to die in car wrecks.: Rebuttal- "While seat belts could never save 100% of people involved in car accidents, the number of lives that would be saved is enough to far outweigh any negative consequences of wearing a seat belt."

It is common for arguments that commit this fallacy to omit any specifics about "how much" the solution is claimed to not work, but express it only in vague terms. Alternatively, it may be combined with the fallacy of misleading vividness, when a specific example of a solution's failing is described in eye-catching detail and base rates are ignored (see availability heuristic).

The fallacy is a kind of false dilemma.

References

* Browne, M. N. & Keeley, S. M. (2004). "Asking the Right Questions." 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

ee also

*Nirvana fallacy


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