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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. ^ Curtis, Gary N. (2018). "Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Force". The Fallacy Files. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Argumentum ad Baculum". Lander University. Retrieved 23 July 2022.
  3. ^ Woods, John (November 1998). "Argumentum ad baculum" (PDF). Argumentation. 12 (4): 493–504. doi:10.1023/A:1007779930624. S2CID 143386357. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 November 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  4. ^ Hansen, Hans (2020). "Fallacies". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2020 ed.). Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  5. ^ "American Notes". The Illustrated London News. Vol. LXXI, no. 2009. 29 December 1877. p. 622. Retrieved 24 June 2021. ...that uncompromising Sumner whose eloquence exasperated a fiery Southerner into the employment of the argumentum ad baculum...