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Special pleading

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Special pleading means applying any standards, rules, codes, and so on, to other people while exempting oneself and/or one's friends from those same standards, rules, codes, or other strictures--while failing to provide a good and sufficient reason for claiming or asserting the exemption.

Of course, different particulars between cases demand different resolutions of those cases. But the difference must be a relevant difference--relevant, that is, to the standards or other rules at hand, and their application.

Special pleading generally means offering no reason at all for the exemption. If one does offer a reason, but that reason is not satisfactory, then he has made a failed pleading. The difference between failed pleading and special pleading often blurs, especially when the "reason" offered is a non sequitur.

Special pleading is a particular odious form of hypocrisy, in which the person not only won't apply his own standards to himself, but also--and far worse--brazenly declares that he shouldn't have to.

Evolutionary thinkers are special-pleaders in this sense: They believe that the discussion on evolution should begin at the "first replicating organism" and not be a discussion of "molecules to man". This allows them to openly discuss evolution in a compartmentalized form, disregarding the pesky mechanics of bringing about the first replicating organism. This "front-loaded thought experiment" is a form of special pleading.

Related Reference

Special pleading by the Nizkor Project

See Also

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This argument represents a
Special pleading.
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