Winning Discussions: Special Pleading (Effective Pirating)

Winning Discussions: Special Pleading (Effective Pirating)

Logical fallacies are techniques that people use to make an argument appear convincing even when it is wrong. Learning how to identify and refute logical fallacies is one of the best ways to win in a discussion. Catching an opponent committing a fallacy will force him to retract his error or he will appear foolish or manipulative to his audience. There is a dark side to this. Once you learn to identify logical fallacies you will also be able to use them. Do not deliberately use them against fellow Pirates; it is extreme bad manners and you will most probably be caught out.

The Logical Fallacy – Special pleading

This is the application of an exception for a person (or group of people) to a rule, standard or principle. The exception made has no valid reasoning behind it. Usually this is made on behalf of the speaker, or someone close to them.  It is frequently used to justify religious and spiritual beliefs. However, Pirates will find it being used to explain political dogmas that do not work in the real world. Special pleading is especially used to justify the injustices perpetrated by the elite.


My psychic abilities work but only when there are no sceptics in the room.

All drug traffickers deserve the death penalty except for the citizens of our country, who have invariably been duped into carrying drugs.

Members of the justice system deserve special treatment when they are caught breaking the law, as it might adversely affect their jobs.

All religions are superstitions – except the one I believe in.

The success in the polls that the Pirates of Iceland are seeing would never happen in my country because the circumstances are different.


If you are accused of using special pleading in your argument, you would be well advised to think about your rationale. It is easy to see it in other people’s arguments but not in our own.


You can read more about the special pleading logical fallacy in a wikipedia post and logical fallacies in general in this wikipedia article.
Remember that just because someone commits a logical fallacy it does not mean their argument is necessarily incorrect. If you have the time and resources then use the principles of scepticism to test their reasoning objectively.

This article is a part of a series called Effective Pirating:

Winning Discussions: Special Pleading (Effective Pirating) 04/05/15
Winning Discussions: Argument from Repetition – ad nauseum (Effective Pirating) 02/04/15
Winning Discussions: No True Scotsman (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: The Fallacy Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 09/01/15
Winning Discussions: The Gambler’s Fallacy (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: argumentum ad ignorantiam (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: Ad Hominem (Effective Pirating)
Winning Discussions: Appeal to Fear (Effective Pirating) 21/10/14
Winning Discussions: Begging the Question (Effective Pirating) 17/8/14
Winning Discussions – The Bandwagon Fallacy (Effective Pirating) 11/8/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – Tu Quoque 24/7/14
Effective Pirating: Winning Discussions – The Straw Man 17/7/14
Effective Pirating: Choose your Opponents Carefully 7/7/14

Featured image: Public Domain by John Tenniel