many questions, fallacy of
- The lawyers' fallacy of inferring or implying some kind of guilt when a person cannot give a straight yes-or-no answer to a question that in fact does not permit of such an answer. The classic example is ‘Have you stopped beating your wife?’ to which an innocent person can give no one-word answer. The question conceals two others (Did you ever do so? Do you do so now?) and innocence means answering ‘no’ to each. Unfortunately, since we normally talk about stopping things that we have once started, simply answering ‘no’ to the overall question carries a strong implicature that you used to do so, and go on doing so. So you do not want to say (only) that, nor of course do you want to say ‘yes’.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.
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