Since the first man walked this earth, we have been trying to understand why everything is the way it is. Why do things work the way they do? What happens if you put this with that? Humans have always been determined to learn and understand everything they can. As a result, the knowledge that beings have acquired and the patterns in subjects have come to be facts. These facts show the definite ways that objects, persons, and events function. After studying, one can determine results and learn to comprehend things that happen every day such as choices made and their outcomes.
But what if the alternative would have been selected? Can one identify what the outcome for that selection would have been? In other words, can we determine the “ifs” and “maybes” through the knowledge we have acquired? Hypothesis contrary to fact, the fallacy, questions claims made with certainty about what would have happened if a past event or condition would have been different from what is actually was. Fallacies are errors in logical reasoning, or when an arguments language is wrong or vague.
However, many of these errors aren’t determined in the argument until they are analyzed because they appear to “look good”. There are numerous types of fallacies: informal fallacies, formal fallacies, fallacies of ambiguity, fallacies of presumption, and fallacies of relevance. There are ways to think about these fallacies: speculatively, analytically/critically, and normatively. Under hypothesis contrary to fact, hypothetical situations are treated as facts although it is a poorly supported claim.
An example of this fallacy is “If my dad hadn’t won the lottery ticket, my parents would have been divorced” or “If I had bitten into that jawbreaker, my tooth would have fallen out”. In both of these examples, an alternate outcome is being determined through supposition s through the use of prior knowledge and experience. For example, perhaps the person’s parents were fighting over financial issues and the lottery resolved their disputes. Also, the person possibly has already bitten into a jaw breaker and there tooth had fallen out.
These hypothetical situations are concluded through prior experiences but are they enough to assume what did not happen? Does one need to experience everything in order to understand? Regardless of how much knowledge one has it is impossible to determine what might have happened, however knowledge does help assess the possible outcomes and there likelihood of occurring through prior knowledge and experience. But one here can easily detect the fallacy’s inconsistency; there will never be enough evidence to see what may have happened because there is never any way of knowing.
A soccer athlete might argue that if he were to kick the ball he would score a goal because he’s never missed in his life but if he never shoots how can one really know if he would have made it? Maybe there was a strong breeze or maybe he tripped before kicking the ball or someone interfered with his shot. Yes, the soccer player probably wouldn’t miss the goal but there is no way of actually identifying if the statement is true hence why it is a speculative fallacy. Speculative fallacies are guesses or hypotheses. It deals with implications and the consequences of things such as “what are the consequences of thinking in a certain way”.
For example, hypothesis contrary to fact can often be misinterpreted in a situation or a person may be “misjudged” for its use which may lead to serious consequences. Max might say about his enemy “if he would have touched me I would have killed him”. This could be misinterpreted in two ways; one, in a literal sense and people would be concerned, or two that he is an aggressive person. However, this is usually not the case. Like all other fallacies, hypothesis contrary to fact is taken lightly and can be “innocent fun”.
One usually uses it when teasing someone else saying “if you had one more cookie you would have exploded” or “if you had a few more drinks he would have been good looking”. It is often used by people because it is a different form of expressing what they are trying to convey. Sometimes it is used to help exaggerate a situation such as the cookies one or the drinks one for a sense of humor. These fallacies are usually not taken literally and become a form of expressing themselves for the person using them by asserting what would have happened if what had happened had not happened.