Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rhetorically Speaking...Petting Turretinfan’s Peeves.

I just thought I would address Turretinfan’s latest comments over the my alleged misuse of the label “begging the question” in connection with my discussion of the Plurium Interrogationum fallacy:

Mr. Hoffer, in a new post (link) seems to miss the point of my correction of his irregular use of the term "begging the question" to describe plurium interrogationum. So that things are clear for him, I'm saying that his accusation/objection should have been to "complex question" or "loaded question" if he was objecting to a fallacy of plurium interrogationum (and I have assumed that it was his intent to object to plurium interrogationum, as petitio principii would be an even less appropriate, for the formal reasons Mr. Hoffer outlines in his post). The phrase "begging the question" derives from the petitio principii fallacy, not the plurium interrogationum fallacy. As well, the preferred spelling of petitio principii is ending with two "i"s (i.e. four total "i"s in the word).

I take it from his latest comments that he does not recognize my 23 years experience as a trial attorney nor the fact that I have an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Juris Doctor degree as sufficient qualification for me to recognize and label his fallacious reasoning. Unfortunately for him, I do not recognize the ever-anonymous Turretinfan as an authority on fallacies either. He adduces no evidence or documentation to support his bald assertion of my so-called irregular usage of the label “begging the question” nor does he provide the reader with any documentation of his training, education or experience showing his qualifications to opine whether my usage of the label “begging the question” is correct or not.

Unlike my anonymous adversary, I am not asking you, the reader, to accept my argument on my say-so based on my college and graduate school-level education or 23 years of experience as a trial attorney. No, I offer the following documentation for your consideration:

Here is one definition of Plurium Interrogationum:

“An interrogative proposition allowing only one simple response, where two or more unrelated points are conjoined and treated as a single proposition, each one of the points requiring a different answer. Another form of this fallacy is to ask for an explanation of something which is untrue or not yet established. It is the interrogative form of Begging the Question fallacy. A complex question is an illegitimate use of the "and" operator.” (Emphasis mine) See, European Society for General Semantics definition of “Complex Question.” See also, this link.

The Fallacy Files , which categorizes and compiles hundreds of examples of fallacious arguments, is the brainchild of Dr. Gary N. Curtis, PhD, a professor of logic and philosophy, and one I highly recommend. Dr. Curtis defines Plurium Interrogationum as: “A question with a false, disputed, or question-begging presupposition.”

Now, let’s look at Turretinfan’s original comments once again:

“Question for my readers who follow Vatican 2's proclamation that "the plan of salvation includes" Muslims: Can you see from the example above that zealously following Islam leads to eternal destruction? If so, how do you justify to yourself your church's claim? Can you not admit that your church has erred on this point?”

Please note by his use of question marks and more tellingly, by starting out his comments with the word “Question,” that Turretinfan made his representations of what the Catholic Church teaches “premises” of three questions he asked his Catholic readers. If he had stated his premises in the form of a sentence as opposed to a question, he would have been correct to assert that Petitio Principii and not Plurium Interrogationum was the correct labeling of his fallacious reasoning. However, since he had stated his fallacious premises in the form of interrogatives, I would submit based on the authorities I cited above that Plurium Interrogationum and not Petitio Principii is the proper name for his fallacious reasoning. Furthermore, I would also contend that I am well within my rights to use the phrase “Begging the question” in refuting an argument based on either Plurium Interrogationum or Petitio Principii fallacies.

Turretinfan’s argument on this matter highlights one of my own pet peeves, which is people (particularly anonymous ones) claiming that I “miss the point” on something and then offer no evidence or documentation to support their claim other than their personal argumentation. When one cloaks himself and hides under the mantle of anonymity as Turretinfan does, one should not engage in ipse dixit. See, here.

The Defense rests.

1 comment:

David Waltz said...

Hi Paul,

Turretinfan’s expertise clearly lies within the theological framework of the Calvinistic paradigm (which he has, and is clearly equipped to defend). However, when TF ventures outside of his paradigm it sure seems that he is treading-on-thin-ice; your recent exchange with him concerning the RCC’s position on Islam sure seems to support my thesis.

BTW, another excellent thread…

Grace and peace,