What is Argument to the purse?

The argumentum ad crumenam assumes that money is a measure of rightness, and that those with money are more likely to be correct. ‘If you’re so right, why ain’t you rich?’ is the common form, but it translates poetically as the belief that ‘truth is booty’.

There have been branches of Christianity which held that worldly success could be taken as a mark of divine favour; and there have been constitutions which loaded the franchise to the advantage of those with wealth and property.


I note that those earning in excess of £100,000 per year tend to agree with me.

(Maybe so. He might have added that right-handed people disagreed with him, that 6-foot-tall people agreed, and that those with hazel eyes were evenly divided. These have about as much to do with being right as money does.)


The fallacy in the argumentum ad crumenam is, of course, that wealth has nothing to do with it. It is a sweet and fitting thing to make a lot of money. It is also a sweet and fitting thing to be right; but only an undistributed middle can relate the two because of this.

Behind the argumentum ad crumenam there lies the vague feeling that God would not allow people who were wicked and wrong to scoop the pool of life’s goodies. We know that money isn’t everything, but we suspect, deep down, that it is 90 things out of 100, that it will buy nine of the remaining ten, and even make the absence of the remaining one tolerably comfortable.


Surely a man who can make £60 million in a year by recording four songs cannot be all wrong?

(He can.)


The world’s most expensive beer…

(But it makes you no more drunk than does the cheapest.)


There are limited and artificial situations in which money is the measure of right.


The customer is always right.

(This is because the customer has the money. It is true in America; but in Britain the convenience of the shopkeeper often comes first, and in France or Germany it always does.)


In the field of tipping, money can often bring right in its wake.


‘Cabbie, get me to the airport by ten o’clock!’

‘This cab ain’t got wings, mister.’

‘Here’s £20 if you make it.’

‘Stand by for take-off!’


‘My friend wants to know where Big M was last night.’

‘Who’s your friend?’

‘He sent his picture.’ [waves banknote]

‘You can tell Sir Edward Elgar that Big M was at Molly’s bar.’


A version of the argumentum ad crumenam helped in the success of the Industrial Revolution. The belief that the virtues of thrift, perseverance and hard work are rewarded by wealth led naturally to its converse, that worldly goods were the hallmark of virtue. A society in which one needs to make money to be respected for moral worth is probably conducive to an expanding economy.

Your own use of the fallacy is best reserved for situations where you personally can ensure that money not only talks, but positively monopolizes the conversation.


‘I say we do it this way, and I own 60 per cent of the shares in this company.’

[chorus] ‘You’re right, J.G.!’


This differs only in degree from the junior version:


‘7 say it was a goal, and it’s my football.’


The above article is from the book How To Win Every Argument by Madsen Pirie. The article is only for educational and informative purposes to explain and understand formal logic and logical fallacies. It is a great book, definitely worth a read!