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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

Red Light, Green Light

A while ago, my dad was waiting at a red light when he was hit by a car from behind. The driver hit my dad’s car with a solid amount of force, causing it to bump into the car in front. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. That is, no humans were injured. Both the front and back of my dad’s car was more or less totaled, and car that hit my dad was also damaged. Funny thing was, my dad’s car was very much dented in the front, meaning that the car in front of him had been hit with considerable force. However, the driver did not stop after the accident. He (or she) simply drove away when the light turned green. He (I’ll use “he” from this point on) would of definitely felt the jarring bump and heard the crunch, but neither caused him to stop and inspect the damage. This part of the story brought about much speculation when my dad told everyone what happened. The driver that took off would have held no responsibility and would only be given enough money to repair his car if there was any damage. He held no blame. There was no reason to be afraid to stop… unless he was afraid of the people who would be at the scene. More specifically, the police.

This was more or less the point where the listeners of my dad’s story reached. If the driver chose to continue driving and get away, it must have because he wanted to avoid the police. Moreover, he did not want the police to identify him and his car.

The driver had stolen the car he was driving.

Therefore, he drove away from the accident to avoid the police.

This is an example of a logical fallacy, and more precisely, a false cause fallacy, or post hoc.

Event x causes event y:

x = the driver stole the car

y = he drove away from the accident to avoid the police

Under the presumption of the driver being a car thief, his act of driving away seems to make sense. However, the conclusion is an assumption, an unjustified reason to the action. Just because the driver didn’t stop, doesn’t mean he was avoiding the police. He could have been running late, so he chose not to stop. He could have decided not to stop because he knew the accident was not his responsibility. In driving away, he placed more distance between himself and the police, but that does not mean that was his intention.

The action of driving away from the accident is given a false cause. Though “y” is true, “x” is but a guess attempting to fill a gap in the unknown. Thus, a fallacy is created.

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