Sunday, April 01, 2007

Examples of Perfect Solution

The advocate claims that because a proposed solution, idea, or system is not perfect, it should be abandoned completely.
Example: We may as well not bother with police enforcement of speeding laws. There will always be people who break the law and speed, and get away with it.

The deliberately simplistic example above argues that as the enforcement of speeding laws will not be able to catch every person who speeds (the system is not perfect), we should abandon any enforcement completely. This fails to take into account many things, most notably that it is not intended to be perfect and that enforcement is, presumably, more of a deterrent than anything else.

Note that this is closely related to, and often made up of, the fallacies False Dichotomy and Burden of Solution. In the first case, speeding and enforcement of speeding laws is not a black and white issue: different degrees of speeding, repeat offenders, permanent speed cameras, mobile cameras, highway patrols etc. In the second case, if we agree that speeding is bad, how else can we try to stop motorists from speeding other that fines and court appearances? One cannot denigrate the current system, fairly, without proposing some other solution.