Appeal to Hope (Wishful Thinking)


The argument attempts to persuade by invoking hopes and desires.



This fallacy includes appeals to sex, since being more sexy, or meeting sexy people, is something that most people hope for.



"Using Ultra-Brite will give you sex appeal."


"These people all won a million dollars by playing the state lottery. Some day it might happen to you. Play to win!"



It is a good thing to have hopes and desires. No one would attempt anything without the belief that he could succeed. Reasoning based on the genuine causal connections between what we desire and what we must do to achieve our desires is good reasoning. Moreover, hope is not a bad state of mind to be in. We are generally happier if we can live with a hopeful and optimistic attitude--even when that attitude is not otherwise rationally justified.

Of course, this means that our hopes can sometimes lead us to be irrational. Like the Appeal to Fear fallacy, the fallacy of Appeal to Hope exploits our inability to make accurate estimates of probability. However, rather than making something seem more likely by appealing to our fears, this fallacy makes something seem more likely by appealing to our hopes and desires. How likely is it, really, that I will win the lottery? Not very. Certainly not likely enough to justify the cost of the lottery ticket.


Source: I first became aware of this fallacy from Gerald Runkle, Good Thinking: An Introduction to Logic (1978). Although this is almost certainly not the earliest reference to this fallacy, I have not so far been able to identify an earlier source.


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