Argument from authority  

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- [Joan Bakewell] "What you were also attempting to do, as I understand it, was devalue the art as an object simply by saying, 'if I say it's a work of art, that makes it a work of art.'" --Marcel Duchamp interviewed by Joan Bakewell on Late Night Line-Up on 5 June 1968

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

An appeal to authority or argument by authority is a type of argument in logic called a fallacy. It bases the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge, expertise, or position of the person asserting it. It is also known as argument from authority, argumentum ad verecundiam (Latin: argument to respect) or ipse dixit (Latin: he himself said it). It is one method of obtaining propositional knowledge, but a fallacy in regard to logic, because the validity of a claim does not follow from the credibility of the source. The corresponding reverse case would be an ad hominem attack: to imply that the claim is false because the asserter lacks authority or is otherwise objectionable in some way.

On the other hand, there is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true, in contrast to claiming that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from criticism: It can be true, the truth can merely not be proven, or made probable by attributing it to the authority, and the assumption that the assertion was true might be subject to criticism and turn out to have actually been wrong. If a criticism appears that contradicts the authority's statement, then merely the fact that the statement originated from the authority is not an argument for ignoring the criticism.

See also

authority, propositional knowledge, name-dropping, ipse-dixitism

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Argument from authority" 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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