Some of my co-bloggers are big fans of the slippery slope. I’m a skeptic. I’m not suggesting that it is not possible to, in a descriptive way, construct some sort of progression between events that makes some sense. (I have separate doubts about descriptive use of slippery-slope arguments, particularly with the problem of cherry-picking). But my biggest concern with slippery slope arguments are when they are employed normatively: “We shouldn’t do X, because that might lead to Y, and then Z.” Or the ever-popular framing: “Wow, so-and-so suggests we do X. What’s next, Y?” And thus are proponents of some position X called to task for positions Y and Z, which they have never advocated. Meanwhile, self-appointed “pre-cogs” roam the political landscape, charging their opponents with all manner of future offenses. And of course, such charges are as inherently subjective and unprovable as any of the pre-crime charges in Philip K. Dick’s famous story, The Minority Report. This doesn’t strike me as an intellectually honest endeavor. Thus my opposition to the use of normative slippery slope arguments.
And if that doesn’t convince you, remember that use of slippery slope arguments will lead you directly to a life of public intoxication, claim-jumping, dereliction of duty, and champerty.