Argumentation 8 (3):283-289 (1994)

The fallacy of many questions or the complex question, popularized by the sophism ‘Have you stopped beating your spouse?’ (when a yes-or-no answer is required), is similar to the fallacy of begging the question orpetitio principii. Douglas N. Walton inBegging the Question has recently argued that the two forms are alike in trying unfairly to elicit an admission from a dialectical opponent without meeting burden of proof, but distinct because of the circularity of question-begging argument and noncircularity of many questions. I offer a reconstruction of the many questions fallacy according to which it is just as circular as begging the question, concluding that many questions begs the question. The same analysis contradicts Walton's claim that questions can beg the question, drawing a distinction between questions as the instruments of question-begging, and as vehicles for categorical noninterrogative presuppositions that beg the question
Keywords Burden of proof  circular reasoning  fallacy   petitio principii  presupposition  question-begging  questions  Walton  Douglas
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DOI 10.1007/BF00711194
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