Special Pleading

Special pleading is a form of inconsistency in which the reasoner doesn’t apply his or her principles consistently. It is the fallacy of applying a general principle to various situations but not applying it to a special situation that interests the arguer even though the general principle properly applies to that special situation, too.


Everyone has a duty to help the police do their job, no matter who the suspect is. That is why we must support investigations into corruption in the police department. No person is above the law. Of course, if the police come knocking on my door to ask about my neighbors and the robberies in our building, I know nothing. I’m not about to rat on anybody.

In our example, the principle of helping the police is applied to investigations of police officers but not to one’s neighbors.

Source: The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

1 Comment

Filed under Logical fallacies

One response to “Special Pleading

  1. Dear Tim,

    I have specifically discussed special pleading at great length in my expansive and highly analytical post entitled “The Quotation Fallacy“, which you can easily locate from the Home page of my blog. Once this said post is loaded, use the navigational menu to jump to the section titled Compromise and Subjectivity: Special Pleading and Relativist Fallacy. For whatever reason(s), “The Quotation Fallacy” happens to be my most popular post, for it has garnered about 240 comments and 740 likes. I am certainly very keen and curious about what you will make of my take on special pleading, and I look forward to the pleasure of benefiting from your esteemed feedback.

    Yours sincerely,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s