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An appeal to pity (also called argumentum ad misericordiam) is a fallacy in which someone tries to win support for an argument or idea by exploiting her or his opponent's feelings of pity or guilt. The appeal to pity is a specific kind of appeal to emotion.
- "You must have graded my exam incorrectly. I studied very hard for weeks specifically because I knew my career depended on getting a good grade. If you give me a failing grade I'm ruined!"
- "What do you mean I can't get a job here? All my friends work here! This is unfair! You're going to make me cry. How could you do this to me?"
- "If God did exist and you found yourself standing before him facing your judgment, how would you feel about having denied him?"
Recognizing an argument as an appeal to pity does not necessarily invalidate the conclusion or the factual assertions. There may be other reasons to accept the invited conclusion, but an appeal to pity is not one of them (see also, argument from fallacy).
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