Middle ground is a common type of logical fallacy — meaning an error in reasoning that weakens the argument — whereby a person argues that the correct conclusion must lie somewhere between two opposing arguments.
It is also known as the argument from moderation and the golden mean fallacy.
The fallacy of middle ground occurs when someone asserts that a compromise between two opposing positions must be the truth.
Its logical form goes as follows:
- Person 1 argues A.
- Person 2 argues C.
- Therefore, B is correct.
This type of thinking is erroneous because it makes a conclusion solely based on the fact that something is the middle point of two sides. In terms of logic and argumentation, it doesn’t provide us with any valid reasons to believe its truthfulness; simply picking a point between two falses wouldn’t mean that it’s necessarily correct, and the middle of truth and false is also false.
As such, making compromises for the sake of compromise is not a proper way to reach conclusions — even if the middle sometimes is the safest bet.
- Jim says that ostriches cannot fly. Sarah, on the other hand, claims that ostriches can fly. Therefore, some ostriches will certainly be able to fly.
- Brian, an atheist, claims that religions are purely the result of people’s imagination. Alice, who is an omnist, believes that all of the world’s religions contain truths. In a response,
their friend offers a compromise and says that some of the religions are true.
- “My parents always told me that it’s never okay to steal, but my best friend says that you can always steal if you want to. So, considering both views, I think that it must sometimes be okay.”
- Andy thinks that Michigan is south of Indiana, but Linda believes it is north of Indiana. Thus, it must be west of Indiana.
- Person A says that his neighbor’s house is yellow, but Person B is certain that it is red. As a result, Person C says it’s orange.