Reductio ad Hitlerum

Reductio ad Hitlerum

Reductio ad Hitlerum, also argumentum ad Hitlerum, (Latin for "reduction to" and "argument to" and dog Latin for "Hitler" respectively) is an ad hominem or ad misericordiam argument whereby an opponent's view is compared to a view that would be held by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party. It is a fallacy of irrelevance, in which a conclusion is suggested based solely on something's or someone's origin rather than its current meaning. The suggested logic is one of guilt by association.

Its name is a variation on reductio ad absurdum, and was coined by an academic ethicist, Leo Strauss, in 1953. Engaging in this fallacy is sometimes known as playing the Nazi card,[1] by analogy to playing the race card. The tactic is often used to derail arguments, because such comparisons tend to distract and anger the opponent.[1]


Fallacious nature of the argument

Reductio ad Hitlerum is no more than guilt by association, a form of association fallacy.[1][2] The fallacy claims that a policy leads to—or is the same as—one advocated or implemented by Adolf Hitler or the Third Reich, and so "proves" that the original policy is undesirable. For example: "Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism is wrong [because the things Hitler did were wrong, or because it could lead to results ideologically or morally aligned with Hitler]." Used broadly enough, ad Hitlerum can encompass more than one questionable cause fallacy type, by both inverting cause and effect and by linking an alleged cause to wholly unrelated consequences. Hitler was fond of dogs and children, but to argue that affection for dogs and children is wrong on this basis is not logically sound.

Various criminals, controversial religious and political figures, regimes, and atrocities other than those caused by Hitler, the Nazis and the Holocaust can be used for the same purposes. For example, a reductio ad Stalinum could assert that atheism is a dangerous philosophy because Stalin was an atheist for most of his life.[3]

The fallacious nature of reductio ad Hitlerum is easily illustrated by identifying X as something that Adolf Hitler or his supporters did promote but which is not considered unethical, such as painting, enjoying classical music, or owning dogs.

History of the term

The phrase reductio ad Hitlerum is first known to have appeared in University of Chicago professor Leo Strauss's 1953[4] book, Natural Right and History, Chapter II:

In following this movement towards its end we shall inevitably reach a point beyond which the scene is darkened by the shadow of Hitler. Unfortunately, it does not go without saying that in our examination we must avoid the fallacy that in the last decades has frequently been used as a substitute for the reductio ad absurdum: the reductio ad Hitlerum. A view is not refuted by the fact that it happens to have been shared by Hitler.

The phrase was derived from the better known logical argument called reductio ad absurdum. The argumentum variant takes its form from the names of many classic fallacies, such as argumentum ad hominem. The ad Nazium variant may be further derived, humorously, from argumentum ad nauseam.

In 2000 traditionalist Catholic Thomas Fleming described its use against traditional values:

Leo Strauss called it the reductio ad Hitlerum. If Hitler liked neoclassical art, that means that classicism in every form is Nazi; if Hitler wanted to strengthen the German family, that makes the traditional family (and its defenders) Nazi; if Hitler spoke of the "nation" or the "folk," then any invocation of nationality, ethnicity, or even folkishness is Nazi ...[5]

Real-world use

  • Professor Michael André Bernstein alleged Reductio ad Hitlerum in a full-page advertisement placed in The New York Times in 1991, by the Lubavitch community, following the Crown Heights Riot, under the heading "This Year Kristallnacht Took Place on August 19th Right Here in Crown Heights." Henry Schwarzschild, who had witnessed Kristallnacht, wrote to the New York Times that "however ugly were the anti-Semitic slogans and the assaultive behavior of people in the streets [during the Crown Heights riots]... one thing that clearly did not take place was a Kristallnacht."[6]
  • In 2004 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, was quoted in Jyllandposten saying of global warming-skeptic Bjørn Lomborg “What is the difference between Lomborg’s view of humanity and Hitler’s?”, and “If you were to accept Lomborg’s way of thinking, then maybe what Hitler did was the right thing.” Lomborg had followed the consensus practice of economists in applying a discount to present costs for future benefits, and comparing the range of out-comes with other world problems alongside climate change.[7]
  • In the 2008 documentary film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, Ben Stein alleged that acceptance of the philosophy of materialism underlying Darwinian evolution as a scientific theory was integral to the platform of Nazism - a point he illustrated by the juxtaposition of images of evolutionary biologists and Nazis.[8][9][10]
  • In 2011 Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared the American Jobs Act to Hitler's invasion of Poland.[27]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Curtis, Gary N. (2004). "Logical Fallacy: The Hitler Card". Fallacy Files. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  2. ^ Curtis, Gary N. (2004). "Logical Fallacy: Guilt by Association". Fallacy Files. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  3. ^ Tobin, Paul N. (2004). "Hitler, Stalin and Atheism". Rejection of Pascal's Wager: A Skeptic's Guide to Christianity. Archived from the original on 2007-10-14. Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  4. ^ "Natural Right and History". University of Oklahoma. 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-11. 
  5. ^ Thomas Fleming, editor, Chronicles (Rockford, Illinois), May 2000, p. 11.
  6. ^ "Foregone Conclusions". Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  7. ^ "Dec. EPO" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  8. ^ Rennie, John. "Ben Stein's Expelled: No Integrity Displayed." Scientific American. 9 April 2008. 19 May 2008.
  9. ^ "You Say You Want an Evolution." Newsweek. 14 April 2008: 17.
  10. ^ "Hitler and Eugenics." Expelled Exposed. 1 May 2008.
  11. ^ a b Shauna Moser (March 2, 2006). "Penn State Trustee Compares Reagan to Hitler". 
  12. ^ Borger, Julian (13 August 2003). "Study of Bush's psyche touches a nerve | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  13. ^ Madonna infuriates McCain with Hitler-Mugabe sequence at Cardiff concert, Times Online, August 25, 2008
  14. ^ Benjamin, Mark (2008-07-22). "National Review writer compares Obama to Hitler — War Room". Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  15. ^ 37 Diggs (2008-02-14). "FOX's Tom Sullivan compares Obama to Hitler". Crooks and Liars. Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  16. ^ Lowell Greenbaum (2009-06-09). "Cartoon an insult to president 060909 - The Augusta Chronicle". Retrieved 2009-07-19. 
  17. ^ "Editorial: The US health care debate." Jerusalem Post. 18 August 2009. 19 August 2009.
  18. ^ Sponsored by (2010-10-04). "His Struggle: Glenn Beck's Hitler fetish". The Economist. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  19. ^ "Back in Black - Glenn Beck's Nazi Tourette's - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart - 05/12/10 - Video Clip | Comedy Central". 2010-05-12. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  20. ^ — Z.P.. "Glenn Beck Uses Auschwitz To Promote His New Media Venture | Media Matters for America". Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  21. ^ Duboff, Josh. "Lewis Black Exposes Glenn Beck’s ‘Nazi Tourette’s’ - Daily Intel". Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  22. ^ Milbank, Dana (2010-10-03). "Glenn Beck is obsessed with Hitler and Woodrow Wilson. (I'm just saying.)". Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  23. ^ Bennett, David (2011-09-12). "Offshore processing still possible despite High Court decision". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  24. ^ Stevens, Matt (2011-09-13). "Inadmissible". Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  25. ^ "Senator aims 'Nazi' slur at minister during question time". Fairfax Media. 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  26. ^ "'Nazi' strategy hurts us: Palmer". Sunshine Coast Daily. 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  27. ^ Paul Robin Krugman (October 9, 2011). "Panic of the Plutocrats". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-10. "And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes — well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland." 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Reductio ad hitlerum — est une expression ironique désignant, sous forme de fausse locution latine, la disqualification des arguments d un adversaire par leur association à Adolf Hitler ou plus généralement à un autre personnage honni du passé. La reduction ad hitlerum …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Reductio ad Hitlerum — est une expression ironique désignant, sous forme de locution latine, la disqualification des arguments d un adversaire par leur association à Adolf Hitler ou plus généralement à un autre personnage honni du passé. La reductio ad hitlerum… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Reductio ad Hitlerum — Reductio/argumentum ad Hitlerum/Nazium («сведение/апелляция к Гитлеру/нацистам») псевдолатинское выражение, используемое для обозначения современной логической уловки. Термин reductio ad Hitlerum был предложен специалистом по научной этике… …   Википедия

  • Reductio ad Hitlerum — Als Reductio ad Hitlerum bezeichnet Leo Strauss in seinem 1953 erschienenen Buch Natural Rights and History ein Scheinargument, das sich der extremen Negativität Adolf Hitlers bedient. Strauss’ Kritik an Weber Strauss diskutiert die Thesen des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Reductio ad Hitlerum — La expresión reductio ad Hitlerum (Reducción a Hitler, falacia del tipo Cum hoc ergo propter hoc), argumentum ad Hitlerum o argumentum ad nazium fue creada originalmente por Leo Strauss, profesor de la Universidad de Chicago. Reductio ad Hitlerum …   Wikipedia Español

  • reductio ad Hitlerum — noun The conclusion that the wrongness of a property of a person or the wrongness of an idea stems from the fact that it is a property of or an idea that he proposed …   Wiktionary

  • Reductio ad absurdum — ARGVMENTA Argumento ad antiquitatem Argumento ad baculum Argumento ad consequentiam Argumento ad crumenam Argumento ad hominem Argumento ad ignorantiam Argumento ad logicam Argumento ad nauseam Argumento ad novitatem Argumento ad populum… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Разыгрывание нацистской карты — Reductio ad Hitlerum, также argumentum ad Hitlerum, или reductio (или argumentum) ad Nazium псевдолатинское выражение, означающие «сведение (или апелляция) к Адольфу Гитлеру (или нацистам)», современная логическая уловка, разновидность неверной… …   Википедия

  • Ad absurdum — Die Reductio ad absurdum (v. lat. für Zurückführung auf das widrig Klingende, Ungereimte, Unpassende, Sinnlose) ist eine Schlussfigur und Beweistechnik in der Logik. Bei der Reductio ad absurdum wird eine Aussage widerlegt, indem gezeigt wird,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ad absurdum führen — Die Reductio ad absurdum (v. lat. für Zurückführung auf das widrig Klingende, Ungereimte, Unpassende, Sinnlose) ist eine Schlussfigur und Beweistechnik in der Logik. Bei der Reductio ad absurdum wird eine Aussage widerlegt, indem gezeigt wird,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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