This showed up on Reddit today:
Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used. The concept of functional fixedness originated in Gestalt Psychology, a movement in psychology that emphasizes holistic processing. Karl Duncker defined functional fixedness as being a “mental block against using an object in a new way that is required to solve a problem.” This “block” limits the ability of an individual to use components given to them to complete a task, as they cannot move past the original purpose of those components. For example, if someone needs a paperweight, but they only have a hammer, they may not see how the hammer can be used as a paperweight. Functional fixedness is this inability to see a hammer’s use as anything other than for pounding nails; the person couldn’t think to use the hammer in a way other than in its conventional function.
While I can see the attractiveness of this argument, I think that it suffers from a massive flaw: it erroneously concedes that a firearm is primarily used for killing, specifically criminal homicide with regards to the antigun use of the term.
This is incorrect. Firearms aren’t intended for criminal misuse at all. Not a single company markets their guns as criminal tools. None of them are designed for murder. Firearms are marketed as tools for law enforcement, or self protection, or hunting, or target shooting, or for military use.
Instead, I think the proper label for this argument tactic is the Genetic Fallacy:
The genetic fallacy, also known as fallacy of origins, fallacy of virtue, is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone’s origin rather than its current meaning or context. This overlooks any difference to be found in the present situation, typically transferring the positive or negative esteem from the earlier context.
The fallacy therefore fails to assess the claim on its merit. The first criterion of a good argument is that the premises must have bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim in question. Genetic accounts of an issue may be true, and they may help illuminate the reasons why the issue has assumed its present form, but they are irrelevant to its merits.