The Identity Fallacy

By: Monique Zorzella

Revised December 16, 2019

By Alex E. Proimos ( [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Across many subjects of debate, a popular counter-argument used to rebut the argument made by ones opponent is to point out that it contradicts some aspect of their personal identity. In other words, they find a contradiction between the way in which they characterize themselves and the proposition claimed by the arguer. For this reason, they counter that the proposition claimed by the arguer is untrue.

Yet, there is a grave flaw in this kind of deduction. A contradiction between two propositions is an indication of falsity only in circumstances where the propositions are mutually exclusive. In contrast, the nature of the contradiction pointed out in this argument is hypocrisy; that is, if the charge were true, one would be acting in a fashion that does not conform to a perceived aspect of their character. Surely, it is not impossible for people to act hypocritically, so the fact that the claim may be perceived as a contradiction to one’s identity does not necessarily mean arguers position is false. it is possible that it is both true that their character is as they see it and they also have said something that seems to go against that character. This counter-argument commits the fallacy of ignoratio elenchi (ignorance of refutation) or irrelevant conclusion, which is “a purported refutation of a proposition that does not in fact prove it false but merely establishes a related but strictly irrelevant proposition” 1. This reasoning I refer to as the identification (or identity) fallacy specifically when the irrelevant proposition relates to the identity of a person or thing; identity meaning the perception of one’s own being.

The use of this fallacy can be spotted out by asking this question: if one identifies as having some belief or quality, does it follow that the argument at hand is false? For example, if a person describes himself as a kind and respectful person, does it follow that his friends must be wrong that he was acting discourteously toward them at a party a few nights ago? By no means. Notwithstanding, the belief or quality of an individual may be relevant in some cases. For example, if one were to say all Donald Trump supporters are bigots it may be relevant for one to respond by saying I support Donald Trump, but I’m not a bigot. If the person is in fact a Donald Trump supporter and not a bigot, this would contradict the initial proposition that all Donald Trump supporters are bigots. A few specific illustrations will be useful to better understand this concept.

Example 1: Chelsea says that women should have full autonomy when it comes to the legal right to choose to have an abortion. Tracy argues that such a law unfairly leaves men with no rights of their own when it comes to having children. Chelsea responds to her charge by declaring “a feminist is one who, by definition, advocates for equality between men and women. So, being a feminist myself,  the notion that I am advocating for the rights of a woman over a man is untrue.” The issue with Chelsea’s response is that, while the enterprise of feminism may aim to achieve gender equality, it does not follow that the policy she has proposed does not in fact unfairly leave men with no rights of their own. Whether Chelsea identifies as a Feminist is irrelevant to Tracy’s argument.

Example 2: While watching television, Barry remarks to his friend Sam “wow—another crime committed by a person in the name of Islam. I can’t believe their religion teaches them that killing others is fine.” Quite irritated, Sam replies “you’re wrong—Islam does not teach that it’s fine to kill others. The word Islam comes from the Arabic root salaam, meaning peace, so engaging in violence would contradict the very meaning of Islam.” Similar to the previous example, while it may be true that the word Islam means peace, it does not mean Barry’s argument is false, that Isalm teaches others that killing people is acceptable.

Example 3: Gerald and Marilyn are having a discussion about religion. Marilyn asks her friend “are you a religious person?”, to which he replies “I don’t believe in any God. God is just a delusion.” Fascinated by Gerald’s response, she presses him for more answers. “If God is a delusion that would mean there is no such thing as a God. What reason is there to believe that?” Gerald chuckles softly, then remarks “I am an Atheist. An Atheist is someone who lacks a belief in any god, which is much different from one who believes there is no such thing as god. So, I don’t need to think no God exists to assert God is a delusion.” Gerald’s reasoning follows the same error as the previous two examples. He wrongly asserts that by virtue of identifying with Atheism, he could not have implied no god exists and is not required to give any reasoning behind such a notion. However, the proposition God is a delusion is the proposition that Gerald made that Marilyn argues would require him to substantiate the notion gods do not exist. Hence, the definition of Atheism is irrelevant to the point made by Marilyn.

[1] “ignoratio elenchi.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014. 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014. HarperCollins Publishers 29 Sep. 2016

One comment

  1. Hey, how’s it going?

    I want to pass along some very important news that everyone needs to hear!

    In December of 2017, Donald Trump made history by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Why is this big news? Because by this the Jewish people of Israel are now able to press forward in bringing about the Third Temple prophesied in the Bible.

    Jewish Rabbis have publicly announced that their Messiah will be revealed in the coming years who will be a leader and spiritual guide to all nations, gathering all religions under the worship of one God.

    Biblical prophecy tells us that this Jewish Messiah who will take the stage will be the antichrist “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4). For a time he will bring about a false peace, but “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (Matthew 24:15)…then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).

    More importantly, the power that runs the world wants to put a RFID microchip in our body making us total slaves to them. This chip matches perfectly with the Mark of the Beast in the Bible, more specifically in Revelation 13:16-18:

    “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

    Referring to the last days, this could only be speaking of a cashless society, which we have yet to see, but are heading towards. Otherwise, we could still buy or sell without the mark amongst others if physical money was still currency. This Mark couldn’t be spiritual because the word references two different physical locations. If it was spiritual it would just say in the forehead. RFID microchip implant technology will be the future of a one world cashless society containing digital currency. It will be implanted in the right-hand or the forehead, and we cannot buy or sell without it. Revelation 13:11-18 tells us that a false prophet will arise on the world scene doing miracles before men, deceiving them to receive this Mark. Do not be deceived! We must grow strong in Jesus. AT ALL COSTS, DO NOT TAKE IT!

    “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:9-11).

    People have been saying the end is coming for many years, but we needed two key things. One, the Third Temple, and two, the technology for a cashless society to fulfill the prophecy of the Mark of the Beast.

    Visit http://WWW.BIBLEFREEDOM.COM to see proof for these things and why the Bible truly is the word of God!

    If you haven’t already, it is time to seek God with all your heart. Jesus loves you more than you could imagine. He wants to have a relationship with you and redeem you from your sins. Turn to Him and repent while there is still hope! This is forever…God bless!


    We all know God exists. Why? Because without Him, we couldn’t prove anything at all. Do we live our lives as if we cannot know anything? No. So why is God necessary? In order to know anything for certain, you would have to know everything, or have revelation from somebody who does. Who is capable of knowing everything? God. So to know anything, you would have to be God, or know God.

    A worldview without God cannot account for the uniformity and intelligibility of nature. And why is it that we can even reason that God is the best explanation for this if there is no God? We are given reason to know or reject God, but never to know that He does not exist.

    It has been calculated by Roger Penrose that the odds of the initial conditions for the big bang to produce the universe that we see to be a number so big, that we could put a zero on every particle in the universe, and even that would not be enough to use every zero. What are the odds that God created the universe? Odds are no such thing. Who of you would gamble your life on one coin flip?

    Is there evidence that the Bible is the truth? Yes. Did you know that the creation accounts listed in the book of Genesis are not only all correct, but are also in the correct chronological order? That the Bible doesn’t say the Earth was formed in six 24-hour days but rather six long but finite periods of time? That the Bible makes 10 times more creation claims than all major “holy” books combined with no contradictions, while these other books have errors in them? The Bible stood alone by concurring with the big bang saying, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1); and says our universe is expanding, thousands of years before scientists discovered these things. Watch a potential life-changing video on the website listed below with Astronomer(PhD) Hugh Ross explaining all these facts based on published scientific data. He has authored many books, backed even by atheist scientists.

    Jesus came to pay a debt that we could not; to be our legal justifier to reconcile us back to a Holy God; only if we are willing to receive Him: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23).

    God so loved the world that He gave us His only begotten son, so that whoever believes in Him, through faith, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus says if we wish to enter into life to keep the commands! The two greatest commands are to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and your neighbor as yourself. All the law hang on these commands. We must be born of and lead by the Holy Spirit, to be called children of God, to inherit the kingdom. If we are willing to humble ourselves in prayer to Jesus, to confess and forsake our sins, He is willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who keep asking of Him; giving us a new heart, leading us into all truth!

    Jesus came to free us from the bondage of sin. The everlasting fire was prepared for the devil and his angels due to disobedience to God’s law. If we do the same, what makes us any different than the devil? Jesus says unless we repent, we shall perish. For sin is the transgression of the law. We must walk in the Spirit so we may not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, being hatred, fornication, drunkenness and the like. Whoever practices such things will not inherit the kingdom (Galatians 5:16-26). If we sin, we may come before Jesus to ask for forgiveness (1 John 2:1-2). Evil thoughts are not sins, but rather temptations. It is not until these thoughts conceive and give birth by our own desires that they become sin (James 1:12-15). When we sin, we become in the likeness of the devil’s image, for he who sins is of the devil (1 John 3:8); but if we obey Jesus, in the image of God. For without holiness, we shall not see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

    The oldest religion in the world is holiness through faith (James 1:27). What religion did Adam and Eve follow before the fall? Jesus, Who became the last Adam, what religion does He follow? Is He not holy? He never told us to follow the rituals and traditions of man but to take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). There are many false doctrines being taught leading people astray. This is why we need the Holy Spirit for discernment. Unlike religion, holiness cannot be created. It is given to us from above by the baptism of the Spirit. Jesus is more than a religion; He is about having a personal relationship with the Father. Start by reading the Gospel of Matthew, to hear the words of God, to know His character and commandments. Follow and obey Jesus, for He is the way, the truth, and the life!


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