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What is this logical fallacy called?


dstebbins
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Event W happens.

John uses W as an excuse for not doing Event X.

Suddenly, Event Y happens, which negates the alleged deficiency from Event W that supposedly exempts John from having to do Event X.

However, John argues that he cannot comment on, or respond to, Event Y until he's had time to do Event X, an omission which, as of Event Y, he has no excuse for not doing.

 

Obviously, John is just trying to avoid work. His boss isn't going to buy into that, and the boss is going to fire John's butt.

 

But, what is the official name of this logical fallacy that John is trying (unsuccessfully) to use to avoid work?

 

Here's an example that involves tangible events:

 

A Defendant gets brought into court. He argues that, because the charges against him lack sufficient detail, he shouldn't be required to enter a plea just yet.

 

So, the prosecutor files an amended charge, giving the detail the Defendant complains about (even if it wasn't necessary before, the prosecutor humors the Defendant juist to move the case along). The Defendant argues that, because he hasn't entered his plea yet, adding new charges is premature.

 

Obviously, the Defendant is going to be in for a rude awakening, and the Judge isn't going to be amused with his shenanigans. But, what is that logical fallacy actually CALLED?!

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I don't think it's a logical fallacy. I think the court case is just wrong. No new charges are being added, the details of the only charge are being amended, and should require the defendant to enter his plea as soon as the new details are available.

 

In the first example, let's plunk some reality into those variables. W = big thundershower, X = mowing the lawn, Y = afternoon BBQ party. John uses the rains as an excuse not to mow the lawn at the residence his company will be catering for today. When John's boss tells him he needs to set up the chairs and tables for the guests, John tells her he needs to mow the lawn before he can even think about setting up the back yard for a party.

 

I don't see the problem, or the fallacy. John isn't avoiding work, he just doesn't want to set up chairs he'll have to move in order to cut the grass. If this isn't an example of what you mean, please provide your own reality.

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It seems to be a "vicious circle", in this case formed by removing the reasoning that got you into (or can take you out of) the circle in the first case.

Defendant offers no plea only due to lack of evidence. Defendant rejects evidence only because of lack of plea.

I haven't found any more specific term for it.

Edited by md65536
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I don't think it's a logical fallacy. I think the court case is just wrong. No new charges are being added, the details of the only charge are being amended, and should require the defendant to enter his plea as soon as the new details are available.

 

In the first example, let's plunk some reality into those variables. W = big thundershower, X = mowing the lawn, Y = afternoon BBQ party. John uses the rains as an excuse not to mow the lawn at the residence his company will be catering for today. When John's boss tells him he needs to set up the chairs and tables for the guests, John tells her he needs to mow the lawn before he can even think about setting up the back yard for a party.

 

I don't see the problem, or the fallacy. John isn't avoiding work, he just doesn't want to set up chairs he'll have to move in order to cut the grass. If this isn't an example of what you mean, please provide your own reality.

You're missing an important element from my OP.

 

In my initial premise, Event Y negates Event W.

 

In your example, the scheduled BBQ doesn't negate the thunderstorm.

 

Here's another example. Again, I'm using a court case, since that's the only thing I can think of right now (don't ask me why).

 

A lawsuit is filed by Mr. Plaintiff. No evidence is attached to the Complaint, but that's because the Rules of Civil Procedure don't require evidence to be attached to the Complaint, The Complaint is just where you make the accusations, not where you actually prove your claim. This lack of evidence attached is "Event W."

 

So Mr. Defendant gets served with process, and ask the Court to throw the case out without a trial, on the grounds that Mr. Plaintiff hasn't shown any evidence to support his baseless accusations. Granted, he's not SUPPOSED to attach evidence to the Complaint; that's what "discovery" is for.

 

However, a Motion to Dismiss means that the litigation cannot move forward to the "discovery" phase, untilt he judge denies. Even if the denial is academic, and the motion to dismiss is totally frivolous, we still need a judge to actually deny the motion, first.

 

Just as how we need a jury to find a defendant "guilty." Even when the evidence is overwhelming, we still need a jury verdict to rubber-stamp his conviction.

 

So, "Event X," in this example, is Mr. Defendant's attempt to use the lack of evidence as an excuse to not participate in the rest of the litigation.

 

Frustrated by Mr. Defendant's attempts to delay the case, Mr. Plaintiff goes ahead and files a Motion for Summary Judgment, attaching the evidence that Mr. Defendant says was lacking. This is "Event Y."

 

Mr. Defendant, however, complains that he should not have to answer a Motion for Summary Judgment until he has had a full discovery. This is "Event Z."

 

Problem is ... the lack of discovery (Event X) is caused by Event W, and Event W is negated by Event Y! So, Mr. Defendant has no business still engaging in Event X, which means Event Z makes no sense, and thus is based on a logical fallacy.

 

What is that fallacy called? Not Event X. The logical fallacy is from Event Z.

Edited by dstebbins
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You're missing an important element from my OP.

 

In my initial premise, Event Y negates Event W.

 

In your example, the scheduled BBQ doesn't negate the thunderstorm.

 

The BBQ negates the thunderstorm as an excuse not to mow. I wasn't expecting it to negate the storm itself.

 

Why do you think everything that makes no sense is based on a logical fallacy?

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nonsequitur

 

Are you sure about that? I looked up nonsequitur on merriam-webster.com, and the definition I got was "a statement that is not connected in a logical or clear way to anything said before it."

 

In the examples I gave, there is a logical connection between Events W, X, Y, and Z. Specifically, the connection is ... Mr. Defendant is just trying to delay the case because he's shaking in his boots and knows he's screwed if judgment gets entered.

 

Nonsequitur seems just as inapplicable in this circumstance as "circular reasoning." That name seems to fit, but the phrase "circular reasoning" is usually applied specifically to "peptitio principii" arguments, not any other type where you're arguing and endless loop (such as Catch-22, or this type of circumstance).

Why do you think everything that makes no sense is based on a logical fallacy?

I do legal briefs for a living. Lawyers send me their cases, and I write the briefs for them.

 

So, whenever an opposing party makes an argument that doesn't make sense, i need to know what to call their bullcrap.

 

Courts care about semantics like that.

 

Besides, if I know the official name, it makes the attorney I'm helping out appear smarter, which increases the odds of those lawyers getting on the judges' good side.

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The BBQ negates the thunderstorm as an excuse not to mow.

 

Do you mean that if there was a BBQ planned, you would expect someone to mow the lawn in a thunderstorm?

If you mean it as a nonsense example, there's no point in dismissing the general case with a specific example that doesn't make sense.

 

Besides, if I know the official name, it makes the attorney I'm helping out appear smarter, which increases the odds of those lawyers getting on the judges' good side.

It might technically be called "circular reasoning" if there's nothing more specific???

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Unfortunately, the legal system thrives on exactly the kind of bullcrap you're describing. If it didn't, we wouldn't need lawyers.

 

There isn't a logical fallacy here - what the defendant in this example is doing is called gaming the system. They're using the available rules of jurisprudence (in your example, arguing against answering the summons, and again against the summary judgement), to delay the legal process as long as possible. Every step they make is completely logical - from the the point of view of protecting the defendant by delaying the case as long as the rules allow.

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Do you mean that if there was a BBQ planned, you would expect someone to mow the lawn in a thunderstorm?

If you mean it as a nonsense example, there's no point in dismissing the general case with a specific example that doesn't make sense.

 

I mean that mowing wet grass isn't preferable to mowing dry grass. It takes longer, makes a bigger mess, and could be bad for your mower. The thunderstorm gives John the excuse to postpone the mowing, but the BBQ makes it imperative that he get it done regardless.

 

Let's substitute a different reality. W = lottery win, X = fixing the refrigerator, Y = bill collector arrives. Bob is supposed to fix the refrigerator (X), but he learns he won a small lottery and can now buy a new one, and uses this as an excuse not to fix the old one. Then a bill collector magically shows up demanding payment on past due bills (Y), which negates using W as an excuse not to do X (because the lottery wasn't enough to pay the bills and buy a new refrigerator). Bob tells the bill collector he has to fix the refrigerator ("All that food might go bad!") before he can think about paying those past bills.

 

So again, no real logical fallacy here, just a guy who is using an excuse to avoid doing something he should have done before.

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..

 

A lawsuit is filed by Mr. Plaintiff. No evidence is attached to the Complaint, but that's because the Rules of Civil Procedure don't require evidence to be attached to the Complaint, The Complaint is just where you make the accusations, not where you actually prove your claim. This lack of evidence attached is "Event W."

 

So Mr. Defendant gets served with process, and ask the Court to throw the case out without a trial, on the grounds that Mr. Plaintiff hasn't shown any evidence to support his baseless accusations. Granted, he's not SUPPOSED to attach evidence to the Complaint; that's what "discovery" is for.

 

However, a Motion to Dismiss means that the litigation cannot move forward to the "discovery" phase, untilt he judge denies. Even if the denial is academic, and the motion to dismiss is totally frivolous, we still need a judge to actually deny the motion, first.

...

 

So, "Event X," in this example, is Mr. Defendant's attempt to use the lack of evidence as an excuse to not participate in the rest of the litigation.

 

Frustrated by Mr. Defendant's attempts to delay the case, Mr. Plaintiff goes ahead and files a Motion for Summary Judgment, attaching the evidence that Mr. Defendant says was lacking. This is "Event Y."

 

Mr. Defendant, however, complains that he should not have to answer a Motion for Summary Judgment until he has had a full discovery. This is "Event Z."

 

Problem is ... the lack of discovery (Event X) is caused by Event W, and Event W is negated by Event Y! So, Mr. Defendant has no business still engaging in Event X, which means Event Z makes no sense, and thus is based on a logical fallacy.

 

What is that fallacy called? Not Event X. The logical fallacy is from Event Z.

 

 

Event W is not negated by Event Y. Either the evidence did not need to be produced at the early stage (thus Event W is correct and Event Y is merely a subsequent event) OR the evidence did need to be produced at the early state (thus case is flawed because Event W means filing procedure was not followed and no further action will fix this).

 

"Even if the denial is academic, and the motion to dismiss is totally frivolous, we still need a judge to actually deny the motion, first."

- So what does the judge do?

 

If/After the request for summary dismissal is rejected then we would presume that the case would simply proceed normally - ie P would present evidence. Why is this not followed? Are you assuming that D is refusing to participate due to the rejection of his motion?

 

If D is refusing to participate and a move to summary judgment is made by P then D would only be able to fight based on the procedural rules and what had happened in court not on the facts of the case. You cannot bring the substantive evidence into a procedural argument

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It is possible to have conflicting requirements or conditions, and have no logical fallacy involved. If wet grass excludes mowing it, then placing a deadline on getting the grass mowed is a second condition that may conflict with the requirement that the grass be dry. Or if being outside in a thunderstorm is the condition, you can have the same result.

 

Here's an example that involves tangible events:

 

A Defendant gets brought into court. He argues that, because the charges against him lack sufficient detail, he shouldn't be required to enter a plea just yet.

 

So, the prosecutor files an amended charge, giving the detail the Defendant complains about (even if it wasn't necessary before, the prosecutor humors the Defendant juist to move the case along). The Defendant argues that, because he hasn't entered his plea yet, adding new charges is premature.

 

Obviously, the Defendant is going to be in for a rude awakening, and the Judge isn't going to be amused with his shenanigans. But, what is that logical fallacy actually CALLED?!

 

Since the rules involved are man-made, it's entirely possible that they are not self-consistent, and that no fallacy is involved in exploiting that.

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Would this be what you're intending? Because most of the examples I've seen so far don't strike me as doing anything actually wrong other than complaining:

 

You have a delivery person that you need to drive a package somewhere (X). He can't do it because he locked his keys in the car (W). You inform him that there is a spare key somewhere in the back (Y). He says that he can't possibly waste time looking for a spare car key while he has a package that needs delivering.

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I'd need to read it again carefully a few times, but could it be a false dichotomy?

"The Defendant argues that, because he hasn't entered his plea yet, adding new charges is premature."

It's not a case of you can either enter a plea or add new charges. You can do both

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I'd need to read it again carefully a few times, but could it be a false dichotomy?

"The Defendant argues that, because he hasn't entered his plea yet, adding new charges is premature."

It's not a case of you can either enter a plea or add new charges. You can do both

 

But do we know if the rules are actually written that way? Logic fails to predict bureaucracy a depressingly large fraction of the time.

 

The first time I went on international travel for the government, I had to get a government passport. To get a government passport, you need travel orders. But you can't get travel orders without a government passport. That's some catch, that catch-22.

 

(The solution was to get your orders rejected, and that act allowed you to apply for the government passport.)

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Dstebbins;

 

I want to thank you for writing this thread, as I had forgotten how much fun law can be. It has been many years since I worked in law, and my last MS attack took away a lot of my memory and some of my cognitive skills, but I think that I have an answer to your questions.

 

It appears that both, Swansont and iNow, are correct. Swansont is correct in his assertion that this is more about rules and Civil Procedures than it is about logic, but Court rules are very old and have long ago worked out these problems.

 

If this were a Criminal case, a Complaint/Ticket would be filed with the Court, Defendant would be brought in, and there would be an Arraignment. The purpose of an Arraignment is to present evidence to see if there is enough to warrant a Trial. No matter what Plea the Defendant presents, or does not present, it is the responsibility of the Plaintiff to present evidence at that time to forward the case -- or it is dismissed.

 

In a Civil Case, a Complaint is filed with the Court and Defendant is served with the Complaint. Defendant has 21 days to file an Answer to Complaint. Historically, there are four Answers that can be given; either the Defendant admits, denies, admits part and denies part, or Defendant leaves Plaintiff to its proofs, so the Answer to Complaint opens the doors to Discovery. Discovery is where evidence is sought and accumulated so that it can be presented at the Trial.

 

In your above scenarios, you did not mention an Arraignment or an Answer to Complaint, so it is easy to see why evidence would not have been presented. What I can not see is why any Court would allow these steps to be skipped. If these steps were skipped, then iNow would be correct and the logical fallacy would be non sequitur.

 

In my opinion.

 

Gee

 

 

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