Special Pleading is a fallacy where you support your argument with arbitrary exceptions that apply only to you or a group that you have a special interest in. Basically it's creating a Double Standard. This fallacy can be hard to recognize.
This is Part 14 in a series about Logical Fallacies. Please comment or email if there’s a particular fallacy you want me to tackle, or if you have success with refuting an argument using a good technique you can share.
Special pleading makes an excuse for why someone's situation is the exception to the rule. But there's nothing to back up the ad hoc reasoning.
Harold Camping's rapture prediction is a good example. When the rapture didn't happen, Camping eventually said that it did, but that there were special circumstances, namely that it was a spiritual rapture instead of a physical one.
Another one that is more direct: "I believe that all drunk drivers should lose their license. But even though I was legally intoxicated I shouldn't be punished because I was fine and I can hold my liquor better than others."
Another form of Special Pleading is the assertion that you don't have the qualifications to comprehend the person's point of view. For example, "As an atheist, you can't understand God because you're on the outside looking in."
How to Refute Special Pleading:
The first thing you can do is tell the person that they are using a double standard with nothing to back it up. The only other thing I can think of is restate the facts that negate the spurious claim.
Another way to go is to give a similar example to what the person is saying, and get them to admit that in that case things would have to go the normal way. Then say that the case they've brought up is basically the same and should be treated the same.
If you have successfully refuted this logical fallacy, please share how you did it!