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An association fallacy is a type of logical fallacy which asserts that qualities of one are inherently qualities of another, merely by association. The two types are sometimes referred to as "guilt by association" and "honor by association." Association fallacies are a special case of red herring, and are often based in an appeal to emotion.
Guilt by association, also known as the "bad company fallacy" or the "company that you keep fallacy," is the logical fallacy of claiming that something must be false because of the people or organizations who support it. Some examples are:
- Some charities have been fraudulant. Therefore, charities must be frauds.
- Anti-war activists have stated that George W. Bush is just like Hitler. Thereforth, George W. Bush and his foreign policy is evil.
- The Nazis supported eugenics. Therefore eugenics must be evil.
- Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. Vegetarianism must be evil.
The logical inverse of "guilt by association" is honor by association, where one claims that someone or something must be reputable because of the people or organisations who are related to it, or otherwise support it. For example:
- Alice is a lawyer, and Alice thinks highly of Bob. Therefore, Bob must know the law.
- Aaron will make a good race car driver, because his friend is a good race car driver.
Rhetorically, guilt by association may be deployed indirectly through implication rather than by direct accusation.
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