Fallacy of many questions

From Academic Kids

Many questions, also known as complex question, loaded question, or plurium interrogationum (Latin, "of many questions"), is a logical fallacy. It is committed when someone asks a question that presupposes something that has not been proven or accepted upon by the people involved--i.e., a premise is included which is at least as dubious as the proposed conclusion. For example, the statement that one should not walk in the woods alone at night because fairies are likely to bewitch you, presupposes that fairies exist--a dubious proposition.

This fallacy is often used rhetorically so that the question limits direct replies to something that serves the questioner's agenda. The standard example of this is the question Have you stopped beating your wife? Whether the person asked answers yes or no, he will admit to having beaten his wife at some time in the past. Thus, that fact is presupposed by the question, and if it has not been agreed upon by the speakers before, the question is improper, and the fallacy of many questions has been committed. (See Mu (Japanese word) for an alternate answer that has moderately frequent use.)

Note that the fallacy is all in context: the fact that a question presupposes something does not in itself make the question fallacious. Only when some of these presuppositions are not necessarily agreed to by the person who is asked the question, does argument containing them become fallacious.

A similar fallacy is begging the question.

External links

uk:Plurium interrogationum

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