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What's this paradox called?


dstebbins
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I'm currently thinking of a paradox where a person (usually a biased, agenda-driven witness, especially when testifying in court) essentially makes the following arguments:

 

A (the main claim to be argued) cannot possibly be true because of B (some refutting evidence).

B, the opposition argues, is discredited because of C (some flaw in B's evidence).

However, the first party says that C cannot possibly be true because A is false, the very thing you're supposed to be arguing.

 

And you're caught in this endless circle.

 

For example, suppose you're sitting on a jury in a police brutality/racial profiling lawsuit. The Police Chief says that his officer could not possibly have used racism in the handling of the arrest (that's "A") because every police officer is trained to not use use racism in the handling of an arrest (which is "B").

 

When pressed for details, he reveals that the extent of this "training" is attending a six-hour-long class. On cross-examination, the Plaintiff asks how one can be trained (not merely taught, but trained) to do ANYTHING in only six hours. Remember, evidence of this so-called "training" is being used by the Defense to justify their minimal oversight and monitoring of the officer's activities, which means that if officers are left exclusively to their own conscience and morals, things like racial profiling could easily slip past the radar. Prior training - and adequate training at that - is the only thing that could possibly justify such a hands-off policy.

 

However, when asked about how such small amounts of training could possibly be enough, the Chief simply replies "Well, they must have found a way to make it work, because no one on our force commits racial profiling."

 

No doubt, if you were on that jury, you would find in favor of the plaintiff on the issue of municipal liability (Note: For the municipality as a whole to be liable, there has to be a policy or custom within the municipality; otherwise, the plaintiff can only get damages against the individual officer).

 

However, for the purposes of this thread, I'd like to know... what is the NAME of that logical paradox?

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petitio principii?

Hmmm... let's see, here:

 

 

 

Begging the question means "assuming the conclusion (of an argument)", a type of circular reasoning. This is an informal fallacy where the conclusion that one is attempting to prove is included in the initial premises of an argument, often in an indirect way that conceals this fact.

Yep, it seems you are correct! Thanks a bunch!

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A (the main claim to be argued) cannot possibly be true because of B (some refutting evidence).

B, the opposition argues, is discredited because of C (some flaw in B's evidence).

However, the first party says that C cannot possibly be true because A is false, the very thing you're supposed to be arguing.

 

 

I'm sorry I don't follow this.

 

Who is the first party?

 

At line 1, I thought that the first party was the proponent of A, the main claim.

But then at line 3 you say that the first party says A is false.

 

Why would the first party deny the truth of his own proposition?

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