Is there a term for dismissing all of a person's arguments because one of them contains a fallacy (despite the rest not being dependent on that fallacious argument)?

It's not fallacy fallacy because it's not concluding the opposite because of a fallacious argument, it's just dismissing valid arguments because the person who put them forward also made fallacious arguments.

  • 6
    This is in the same area as 'Ad hominem – attacking the arguer instead of the argument. Poisoning the well – a subtype of ad hominem presenting adverse information about a target person with the intention of discrediting everything that the target person says' {Wikipedia}. But these are hypernyms; 'He hates dogs' also qualifies. Therefore not presented as an 'answer', which would, I consider be inappropriate (and downvotable, but that's not the reason I'm making use of a 'comment'). Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 11:17
  • First thing I thought of was the fallacy of composition, that what's true of the component is true of the composition. Atoms can't think therefore nothing made of atoms can think. But you're obviously asking about something more specific.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 12:32
  • It seems like what you're talking about is more like prejudice. If you've committed logical fallacies before your credibility is questionable and so I won't believe further conclusions you make.
    – Zebrafish
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 12:48
  • a sample sentence please ... and required for single word requests.
    – lbf
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 15:43
  • This was a question that was being discussed on a discord channel, there wasn't a specific sentence as an example to provide and I can't really think of a relevant one that would describe this accurately. If a single word doesn't do it then a phrase is also more than acceptable, I'll update the tags. Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


Straight and Crooked Thinking by R. H. Thouless has a chapter with the title Some dishonest tricks in argument. Here the author discusses various duplicitous strategies that he classifies as diversions. This category includes the dismissal of the main thrust of your opponent's position because you have proved him or her wrong on one aspect of it.

Into the class of diversions we must put, too, the trick of fastening on a trivial point in an opponent's argument, defeating him on that, and then leaving it to be supposed that he had been defeated on the main question. A man bringing forward a large number of facts in support of a contention may very well bring forward one, at least, that is not correct. The incorrectness of the fact may not be enough to undermine his conclusion, but an opponent who fastens on that one fact and proves its wrongness can easily create the impression that the whole position of the other is discredited, although, in fact, it has been untouched. He has gained a victory by a diversion ... to a side issue in the question under discussion. (p40-41)

This type of argumentation that focuses only on one aspect of an opponent's reasoning is also called Selective Attention (on the Logically Fallacious website). It is related to cherry picking (Wikipedia).

  • I like victory by a diversion, hence the upvote. I shall try to look out for it in public discussion and political campaigning.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Mar 24, 2018 at 14:21
  • sounds like an excellent answer to me Commented Mar 26, 2018 at 9:39

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