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Special pleading (also known as a double standard) is an informal fallacy that occurs when an exception is created to a principle, law, rule, generalization, or something roughly similar to these when we would expect that principle (or whatever it may be) to apply to whatever is being excluded and no rational justification is given for why the exclusion is created. Special pleading is an informal fallacy wherein one cites something as an exception to a general or universal principle (without justifying the special exception).
When you base an argument on reasoning that is not logical, you have committed a fallacy. Special pleading involves a person applying rules and standards to others while exempting him- or herself. In addition, with special pleading, the person does not provide a logical reason for why he/she should be exempt from the rules or standards.
A difficult case is when a possible criticism is made relatively immune to investigation. This immunity may take the forms of:
• Unexplained claims of exemption from principles commonly thought relevant to the subject matter
Example: I'm not relying on faith in small probabilities here. These are slot machines, not roulette wheels. They are different.
• Claims to data that are inherently unverifiable, perhaps because too remote or impossible to define clearly.
Example: The inhabitants of the third planet of the Alpha Centauri System believe in God.
Tip: If you are accused of special pleading, take the time to consider honestly if the accusation is warranted. This is a fallacy that is easy to spot when others make it yet difficult to spot when we make it.