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Argumentation

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 379–383 | Cite as

The Fallacy of Many Questions: On the Notions of Complexity, Loadedness and Unfair Entrapment in Interrogative Theory

  • Douglas Walton
Article

Abstract

The traditional fallacy of many questions, also known as the fallacy of complex question, illustrated by the question, "Have you stopped sexually harassing your students?", has been known since ancient times, but is still alive and well. What is of practical importance about this fallacy is that it represents a tactic of entrapment that is very common in everyday argumentation, as well as in special kinds of argumentation like that in a legal trial or a parliamentary debate. The tactic combines the use of loaded questions with the complexity of the question. A key notion is that of the presupposition of the question. How to deal with such questions is a point of departure for interrogative theory, and for any attempts to construct formal dialogues of a kind that can be used as normative models of argumentation.

argument tactics debate fallacies interrogation loaded questions multiple-choice questions multiple questions questioning tricky questions 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Walton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

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