Concept

Reductio ad Hitlerum

Summary
Reductio ad Hitlerum (ˈhɪtlərəm; Latin for "reduction to Hitler"), also known as playing the Nazi card, is an attempt to invalidate someone else's argument on the basis that the same idea was promoted or practised by Adolf Hitler or the Nazi Party. Arguments can be termed reductio ad Hitlerum if they are fallacious (e.g., arguing that because Hitler abstained from eating meat or was against smoking, anyone else who does so is a Nazi). Contrarily, straightforward arguments critiquing specifically fascist components of Nazism like Führerprinzip are not part of the association fallacy. Invented by Leo Strauss in 1953, reductio ad Hitlerum takes its name from the term used in logic called reductio ad absurdum ("reduction to the absurd"). According to Strauss, reductio ad Hitlerum is a type of ad hominem, ad misericordiam, or a fallacy of irrelevance. The suggested rationale is one of guilt by association. It is a tactic often used to derail arguments because such comparisons tend to distract and anger the opponent. Reductio ad Hitlerum is a type of association fallacy. The argument is that a policy leads to—or is the same as—one advocated or implemented by Adolf Hitler or Nazi Germany and so "proves" that the original policy is undesirable. Another type of reductio ad Hitlerum is asking a question of the form "You know who else...?" with the deliberate intent of impugning a certain idea or action by implying Hitler had that idea or performed such an action. A comparison to Hitler or Nazism is not a reductio ad Hitlerum if it illuminates an argument instead of causing distraction from it. Straightforward comparisons can be used to criticize fascist components of Nazism like führerprinzip. However, one could argue fallaciously that because Hitler abstained from eating meat or was against smoking, anyone else who does so is a Nazi.
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