Morton's fork

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Morton's fork is a type of false dilemma in which contradictory observations lead to the same conclusion. It is said to have originated with the collecting of taxes by John Morton.

The earliest known use of the term dates from the mid 19th Century and that the only known earlier mention is a claim by Francis Bacon of an extant tradition.[1]

Dilemma

Archbishop of Canterbury John Morton in the late fifteenth century held that someone living modestly must be saving money and, therefore, could afford taxes, whereas someone living extravagantly obviously was rich and, therefore, could afford taxes.[2][1]

In some instances, such as Morton's original use of the fallacy, it may be that one of the two observations is likely valid, but the other is pure sophistry: evidence of possessing wealth may be genuinely irrelevant to having a source of taxable income.

In other cases, it may be that neither observation may be relied upon to support the conclusion properly. For example, asserting that a person suspected of a crime who is acting nervously must have something to feel guilty about, while a person who acts calmly and confidently must be practiced or skilled at hiding guilt. Either observation therefore has little, if any, probative value, as each could equally be evidence for the opposite conclusion.

Examples

"Morton's fork coup" is a maneuver in the game of bridge that uses the principle of Morton's Fork.[3][4]

An episode of the television series Fargo is entitled "Morton's Fork", after the dilemma.

Other examples:

References

  1. ^ a b "Morton's Fork". Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 12 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Morton's Fork. Oxford English Dictionary. 
  3. ^ Frey et al. (1976). The Official Encyclopedia of Bridge, p. 295. ISBN 0-517-52724-3.
  4. ^ Gray, Robert. The Bridge World, March 1973
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Morton%27s_fork&oldid=804581521"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morton's_fork
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Morton's fork"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA