It’s not often that someone offering a bad argument to support their position on an issue actually names the logical fallacy undermining the soundness of their reasoning in their statement of the argument itself. But we were treated to that today!

Whatever your own feelings about the draft legislation of SOPA/PIPA, here is a great example of how not to argue against today’s (1/18/2012) Wikipedia “blackout”:

My main concern is that it puts the organization in the role of advocacy, and that’s a slippery slope,” said editor Robert Lawton, a Michigan computer consultant who would prefer that the encyclopedia stick to being a neutral repository of knowledge. “Before we know it, we’re blacked out because we want to save the whales.” [Link]

The problem with arguments invoking the “slippery slope fallacy” is that they all presuppose the nonexistence of any factor that would in principle preempt the alledged causal process initiated by a precipitating event. In the case of Wikipedia in particular, there is such a factor: Wikipedia’s commitment to a free and open Internet.

Here’s another way to look at it: just because my finger knocks over the first domino doesn’t mean I can’t have another finger on the second one.