Thursday, January 31, 2008

Affirming the Consequent

“Affirming the consequent” is a fallacy that is crucial to Christian leadership theory. Here’s a simple example of the fallacy: 1. If Joe lives to be 100, then Joe ate cherries. 2. Joe has lived to be 100. 3. Therefore Joe ate cherries. This is a fallacy because the conclusion may be false even if the premisses (lines 1. and 2.) are true (Mautner T 2000:8). Even if Joe lives to be 100, and even if Joe ate cherries, and even if all persons who live to be 100 ate cherries, there is the possibility that any number of cherry-eaters will only live to be, say, 30 (the real key to longevity may lie elsewhere). The same with leadership theory. Take the previous post, which proposes that, if Joe succeeds in leadership, then Joe had mentors -- and so on. To put it simply, even if a Christian leadership theory advances much evidence in its support, this may prove little, if not dangerously little -- if the fallacy of affirming the consequent is present. QUESTION: What would a theory need in order to avoid this fallacy?

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