Appeal to tradition  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Appeal to tradition (also known as proof from tradition, appeal to common practice, argumentum ad antiquitatem) is a common fallacy in which a thesis is deemed correct on the basis that it correlates with some past or present tradition. The appeal takes the form of "this is right because we've always done it this way."

An appeal to tradition essentially makes two assumptions that are not necessarily true:

  • The old way of thinking was proven correct when introduced, i.e. since the old way of thinking was prevalent, it was necessarily correct.
    • In actuality this may be false—the tradition might be entirely based on incorrect grounds.
  • The past justifications for the tradition are still valid at present.
    • In actuality, the circumstances may have changed; this assumption may also therefore be untrue.

The opposite of an appeal to tradition is an appeal to novelty, claiming something is good because it is new.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Appeal to tradition" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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