Reductio Ad Absurdum Examples

Reductio Ad Absurdum

Reductio Ad Absurdum is disproving an argument by showing the absurdity of following it through to a logical conclusion. Essentially, the argument is reduced to its absurdity. This works only if there is faulty logic in the argument to begin with.

Examples of Reductio Ad Absurdum:

In a location where there is a sign saying not to pick the flowers, a small child says to his mother, "It's just one flower."

Mother responds, "Yes, but if everyone who came by picked just one flower, there would be none left."

Your friend says, "If I rub my lucky rabbit's foot, then I will do well on this test."

You respond, "So, if it brings good luck, then I need to rub it so that my mom's cancer will go away, and my dad will get a new job, and our family will win the lottery.

You are in trouble for skipping school, but you tell your father, "All of my friends were going!"

He says, "Well, if all of your friends were going to jump off of a bridge, would you do that, too?"

Example of Reductio Ad Absurdum from Literature

From Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal:

I think it is agreed by all parties, that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom... cheap and easy method of making these children sound and useful members of the common-wealth, would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

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