In this type of arguments, you are Presented with a limited set of alternatives when there are actually other choices that are worth considering in the context. Example: "Every person is either my enemy or my friend. If he is my enemy I should hate him. If he is my friend I should love him. So I should either love him or hate him." Obviously, the conclusion is too extreme because most people are neither your enemy nor your friend.
Another way to look at a False Dilemma is : It is an oversimplification that offers a limited number of options (usually two) when in reality more feasible and valid options are available.
You are asked to choose between X or Y. There may be a third option Z (and maybe a fourt and fifth as well) , but that is not considered. .
This is a very common form of argument and we come across it often in our lives Here are some examples you may have come across:
"If you are not with me, you are against me".
"If you love me, you will do X"
"If you believe in God, you would be praying everyday"
"If you have loyalty, you will not quit the job"
"If a company is really concerned about the welfare of its employees, it will never fire them"
" If you are competent, you will never lose your job"
"If you are patriotic, you would never go abroad to live"
Obviously there are more alternative options for each of the arguments above. And because alternative options have not been considered, it is a False Dilemma. The objective of the person making these arguments is to force a decision between two extreme choices - while there may be many moderate options available in between.
During the course of 2014 elections, I have seen many variations of the following arguments as online comments
- If you support BJP, you support Communalism
- If you support Congress, you support corruption
- If you support AAP, you support anarchy
It is important to see the fallacy in this kind of reasoning and rebut it.