|[This text is a repost and the audio is a rerecording. The original was just too flawed so I redid it.]
Special pleading (also known as double standard) is a fallacy that is committed when one claims an exemption to a generally accepted rule or standard in a dispute without justifying the exemption. The folk saying, “it depends on whose ox is being gored” draws attention to this fallacy.
In philosophy, it is assumed that wherever a distinction is claimed, a relevant basis for the distinction should exist and be substantiated. This is known as the Principle of Relevant Difference. Therefore if two people are to be treated differently then a relevant difference between the two people should exist and be substantiated. Special pleading violates this principle.
Tom is committing the fallacy of special pleading because he is exempting his group from a standard that he applies to everyone else, without giving reasons that substantiate relevant differences between his group and everyone else. His reasons fail as follows: 1. Many identifiable groups have suffered unjustly but, according to Tom’s statement on genocide, he would not accept that such people therefore have a right to go and seize somebody’s land, when the land’s owners did not cause the suffering. 2. That would still be true even if we conceded Tom’s claim that his group was hated everywhere (that is, if we ignored all the countries where his group have lived for centuries without being persecuted). 3. Distant ancestry from thousands of years ago is hardly the basis for a claim because, if that were the case, then anyone who has even a bit of ancestry from an even earlier group would have an even more prior claim. That would disqualify Tom’s group from their territorial claim, because his ancient ancestors usurped even earlier people, who, if they left any descendents at all, would be distant ancestors of everyone alive today in the region that includes the disputed territory. (See this link and the paper that it mentions, Recent Common Ancestors of All Present-Day Individuals (pdf)). 4. Finally, invoking the alleged word of God in a book that was written by Tom’s own group and which only they and their sympathisers take literally, clearly violates the Principle of Relevant Difference, because it is not a substantiation (that is, evidence that can be checked by others) but is based on a circular argument: it’s God’s word because it is written in our book, and we believe what is in the book because it is God’s word.