Appeal to Force (Logical Fallacy): Definition and Examples

Appeal to Force (Logical Fallacy): Definition and Examples - Fallacy in Logic

Have you ever lost an argument even though the evidence and logic were clearly on your side? If so, it is likely that your opponent was using logical fallacies – meaning errors in reasoning that weaken or invalidate your argument – to defeat you.

Appeal to force is one type of logical fallacy in which someone uses force or a threat of force to gain acceptance for their argument or position. Rather than appealing to intellect, it fallaciously seeks compliance by evoking fear and anxiety.

It is also known as argumentum ad baculum and appeal to the stick. Furthermore, it is a type of appeal to consequences: the truthfulness of the conclusion is decided by the consequences
it would have, rather than looking at the actual merits of the argument.


As mentioned above, appeal to force occurs when a person uses force or a threat of force to make someone accept their conclusion. In essence, it states that “accept my argument, or I will punish you.”

An example of appeal to force would be:

  • “Tooth fairies are real; you better believe me, or I will punch you in the nose!”

Here, instead of giving any factual reasons why tooth fairies would be real, the offender threatens the listener with violence in order to make them accept the belief. The reality is that,
when physical threats come into play, all reasoning has already been abandoned.

As such, this fallacy does not follow any legitimate reasoning, but simply attempts to “persuade” by punishing, or threatening to punish, the addressee. It’s not only dishonest and unfair, but it’s also improbable that it really succeeds in convincing anyone; even though the listener might seemingly believe the arguer, it is not likely that he or she really takes their conclusion as true – they only show compliance because they fear the consequences of not doing so.


Appeal to Force (Logical Fallacy): Definition and Examples - Fallacy in Logic
  1. Employer: “I need you to work overtime each day this week.”
  2. Employee: “I can’t do that; that’s not even what we agreed upon.”
  3. Employer: “Well, if you don’t wanna cooperate, I can always find someone to replace you.”
  • “If you don’t accept our demands, we will form a riot and wreak havoc in this city until you do!”
  • “The theory of evolution is just simply wrong; you can either accept it now or after I beat you up.”

Feminism: “If particular attention is not paid to the rights of ladies, we will foment a rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no power or voice of representation.”

The Sibling argument: “If you don’t do what I say, I’m gonna call my big brother and he will beat you up.”

Fallacies of Relevance by Dr. Naugle (link).

The Department of Transportation needs to reconsider the speed limit proposals on interstate highways for the simple reason that if they do not, their departmental budget for the Department of Transportation will be cut by 25%.