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Argumentum ad baculum (Latin for "argument to the cudgel" or "appeal to the stick") is the fallacy committed when one makes an appeal to force[1] to bring about the acceptance of a conclusion.[2][3] One participates in argumentum ad baculum when one emphasizes the negative consequences of holding the contrary position, regardless of the contrary position's truth value — particularly when the argument-maker himself causes (or threatens to cause) those negative consequences. It is a special case of the appeal to consequences.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy gives this example of argumentum ad baculum:

If you don’t join our demonstration against the expansion of the park, we will evict you from your apartment.
So, you should join our demonstration against the expansion of the park.[4]

The phrase has also been used to describe the 1856 caning of Charles Sumner, an abolitionist Senator, by one of his pro-slavery opponents, Preston Brooks, on the floor of the United States Senate.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Gary N. Curtis (2018). "Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Force". Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  2. ^ "Argumentum ad Baculum". Lander University. Retrieved 2022-07-23.
  3. ^ John Woods: Argumentum ad baculum. In: Argumentation. Vol. 12, No. 4 (November 1998), pp. 493–504, doi:10.1023/A:1007779930624 (Online).
  4. ^ Hans Hansen (2020). Edward N. Zalta (ed.). "Fallacies". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020 Edition).
  5. ^ "American Notes". The Illustrated London News. Vol. 71. 1877-12-29. p. 622. Retrieved 2021-06-24. ...that uncompromising Sumner whose eloquence exasperated a fiery Southerner into the employment of the argumentum ad baculum...