|Suppressed correlative is a fallacy committed in an argument that attempts to redefine a correlative (one of two mutually exclusive options) so that one alternative encompasses the other, i.e. making one alternative impossible. This has also been known as the fallacy of lost contrast and the fallacy of the suppressed relative.
It appears that, in contrast to the preceding two fallacies, the word “correlative” is used here to refer to one or another of the alternatives, rather than referring to the correlative conjunction. That is, this fallacy is the suppression of one of the alternatives in a correlative conjunction.
A conceptual example:
Person 1: “All things are either X or not X.” (The correlatives: X, not X.)
Person 2: “I define X such that all things that you claim are not X are included in X.” (The suppressed correlative: not X.)
Alternatively Person 2 can redefine X in a way that instead concludes that all things are not X.
The following two examples discuss well-known slogans from the novel 1984.
“War is Peace.”
“War is Peace” suppresses the alternative of war in the correlative conjunction of war and peace by defining war to be included within peace. So if we are at war then we are already at peace and one doesn’t need to look forward to peace (since people normally wish to move away from war and towards peace). It acknowledges the desirability of peace but that we have already attained it if we are at war. The slogan acts as a thought-stopping technique, short-circuiting thoughts of peace, and even making such thoughts impossible because the terms have become unintelligible.
“Freedom is Slavery”
“Freedom is Slavery” suppresses the alternative of freedom in the correlative conjunction of freedom and slavery by defining freedom to be included within slavery. So a person’s natual tendency to move towards freedom is stymied by defining such a tendency as movement towards slavery. This example also is a thought-stopping technique, short-circuiting thoughts of freedom and even making such thoughts impossible because the terms have become unintelligible.
The redefinition is not always so obvious. At first glance it might appear reasonable to define brakes as “a method to quickly stop a vehicle”, however this permits all vehicles to be described as having brakes. Any car could be driven into a wall to stop it but that does not mean that every car has brakes.