argumentum ad antiquitatem - Appeal to Tradition - Believing something is right just because it’s been done around for a really long time.

other names

  • Appeal to Antiquity
  • Appeal to Common Practice

An appeal to tradition essentially makes two assumptions that are not necessarily true:

The old way of thinking was proven correct when introduced, i.e. since the old way of thinking was prevalent, it was necessarily correct.

In reality, this may be false—the tradition might be entirely based on incorrect grounds.

The past justifications for the tradition are still valid at present.

In reality, the circumstances may have changed; this assumption may also therefore have become untrue.

Some typical phrases used to express the authority of the past are “tried and true,” “time tested,” “old reliable,” etc.

The oposite logical fallacy - appeal to novelty is happening when statement is considered true because something is new. This is very common for example in fasion.

Examples of an Appeal to Tradition fallacy

Church should begin at 11am because that’s the time that we have always begun the church service.

This medicine has been used by people since ancient history, therefore it must be an effective way to treat diseases.

Not always true for example Mercury and Tobaco smoke.

Another Appeal to Tradition example:

Interracial marriages should be prohibited because they were not allowed for centuries.

Some definitions and examples are from Texas State University, some are from Rational Wiki, more info: