ESGS Logical Fallacies

Complex Question


Also called Loaded Question, fallacy of Interrogation, fallacy of Presupposition, Plurium Interrogationum, Many Questions.

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.


This is fallacious because the question posits an unproven assumption as being true.


Have you stopped beating your wife?
Translates into: do you beat your wife? If yes, will you stop doing that?

Where did you hide the money you stole?
Have you stolen money? If yes, where did you hide it?

"How long will this EU interference in our affairs be allowed to continue?"
Has there been EU interference in our affairs. If yes, will we allow it to continue?

Do you support freedom and the right to bear arms?
Do you support freedom? Do you support the right to bear arms?

Have you stopped using illegal sales practises?
This asks two questions: did you use illegal practises, and did you stop?




The trick is easy to detect, except if your opponent is very stupid. So there is no practical use in it except if you want to use humour.

If your opponent try to use a complex question, identify the two propositions illegitimately conjoined and show that believing one does not mean that you have to believe the other.

© ESGS, 2002.