Slippery Slope Arguments

26 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2009

See all articles by Wibren van der Burg

Wibren van der Burg

Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam

Date Written: August 7, 2009


Slippery slope arguments hold that one should not do A in order to prevent from arriving in some clearly undesirable situation B. There are various types of slippery slope arguments which should be carefully distinguished. We should also distinguish the contexts in which the slope is used, as the mechanisms of social dynamics and the role of logic differ in each of these contexts. They are not fallacies, but they are only seldom fully convincing arguments - although they are often rhetorically highly effective. Their most important role is in institutionalized contexts like law where they may shift the burden of proof.

Revised version of article in Enc. of Applied Ethics, submitted for second edition.

Keywords: Arbitrariness, argument from added authority, critical morality, domino theory, drugs, euthanasia, fallacy, law, rhetoric, slippery slope argument, social morality, sorites, vagueness, wedge.

Suggested Citation

van der Burg, Wibren, Slippery Slope Arguments (August 7, 2009). Available at SSRN: or

Wibren Van der Burg (Contact Author)

Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University Rotterdam ( email )

PO Box 1738
3000 DR Rotterdam


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