This is a fallacy that supposedly provides the only two options of a certain situation. These are false “either” and “or” statements that only contain two options. “You’re either with me or your against me." This is a false dichotomy because it leaves out the third option. The third option is the fact that one can be neutral towards you. Sometimes these are hard to spot because of the language used in the scenarios given. One must be aware of all the options to make a rational choice about a situation. Here are some more examples of a False Dichotomy:
Either you study for the test or you will fail the class. This is an obvious false dichotomy because other assignments could boost your grade and you could pass the class that way. If the test is the class, then you are a bit done for. However, most classes are not set up this way.
Either you’re telling the truth or you’re not. This may seem like the only possible situation since you have two contradictory possibilities. The law of non-contradiction would suppose this. Another option is that you were mistaken of what your reporting. You wouldn’t be telling the truth or lying because you were mistaken in what you are being asked about.
Either science is the only way to truth or there is no way to truth. Science is a great methodology that has help the rise in technology, but it is not the only type of methodology. First, we can’t scientifically prove the first statement, so it is a statement that cannot be true. Science can’t prove that we aren’t a brain in a jar being stimulated on. Science presupposes mathematical and logical truths, so to argue to prove these scientifically is to beg the question. Moral and ethical questions cannot be proven scientifically. Science can make a poisonous substance, but cannot tell you to not expose someone to the poisonous substance. Aesthetic truths, like art and beauty can’t be proven scientifically because these are metaphysical questions that philosophy has to answer. Finally, science has its own presuppositions that cannot be justified scientifically. For example, we cannot scientifically prove the uniformity of nature, that the laws will remain a constant tomorrow, the existence of numbers, the honesty of every scientific test conducted, and so on. Science cannot be justified by science because it contains to many presuppositions. Although science is a helpful way of epistemology, it is not the only way to truth. This is a false dichotomy for these reasons.
False Dichotomies can also appear as loaded questions when you think about it. Loaded questions contain many assumptions since it’s a combination of three or more unanswered questions. “Either you’re with me or your against me” There are many unanswered questions in this false dichotomy. What is the context of the question? Who are you asking? Who’s the person asking the questions. Many times with false dichotomies, we must get the context of the situation. Use Greg Koukl’s Columbo tactic to help get the context of any situation presented. These false dilemmas must be avoided. Either you avoid this fallacy or you’re not a logical person.