What is the fallacy that privileges one person over another?

I see this a lot, someone in a category of people attempts to shut down anyone with an opinion that is not from the same category. For example, people without children weighing in on parenting; the parent may say something like “well, since you don’t have kids and I do, my position is of more validity than yours.”

Another example: a drug user (of some kind) telling someone who has never done drugs and does not care to, “until you tried it, you have no right to judge me.”

People frequently try to limit the consideration on opinions to those in their same group, while it is perfectly reasonable that the non-drug user, especially if they are a chemist or well read on the subject, may have an equally valid opinion, or even more valid. In fact some might even say that someone NOT in the category has a better chance of being objective and seeing the forest for the trees.

So what is the fallacy of trying to shut down opinions when the source of the opinion is not someone who has personally had the experience under discussion?

4 Answers

It is specifically just the genetic fallacy: assuming an argument is erroneous on the basis of its provenience.

But I prefer to see it as what CS Lewis named ‘Bulverism’ — diagnosing an argument as a symptom of something (the speaker’s known or presumed bias or ignorance, the social or political context, any psychological dynamics at play, concurrent rhetorical manipulations, etc.) instead of considering its content

The specific diagnosis given in both of your example cases is ‘ignorance through lack of exposure’.

However you choose to identify it in particular, as @elmer007 notes above, you can tell this is a fallacy right away because it is ad hominem — pointed at the speaker and not the content.

Even if ignoring or being especially dubious about an argument for some contextual reason is sensible, it is always still a fallacy. Logically, one can only reject an argument based upon its content — which involves actually considering the content.

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