We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
This one goes back to the astonishing Aristotle, and hence to the Roman Petitio Principii.
That is, pleading, or begging for the premise to be accepted.
What is fun about this fallacy is that the statements may be fully logical, but erroneous because they are circular: if you accept the premise, then the conclusion logically follows. As in: My premise is A=B, so I will create another assertion which implies, or is built on, or derives from, the notion that A=B.
The classic example of this form of logic abuse is "When did you stop beating your wife?" The premise contains the accusatory conclusion.
Also known as "circular arguments," such arguments can seem persuasive if you don't step back and examine the often-hidden premise. They are technically "informal fallacies," because the error is not within the "form" of the argument: the form can be fine while the basis is flawed.
Example:God created the earth and its creatures five thousand years ago. Well, that hidden premise is that every word of the Bible is scientifically and chronologically true according to modern thinking. If you accept the premise, then I suppose you must accept the conclusion.
Example:Massachusetts politicians alarmed by rapid erosion of Cape Cod: Blame Bush's global warming. Hidden premise/assumption: man-made warming is raising sea levels and washing Cape Cod out to sea. Of course, there is no evidence for that mechanism - Cape Cod was disappearing in Thoreau's time, and he commented on it. The wise will buy Monomoy Island real estate, which is where the sand is being deposited. Hey - it's the next Nantucket.
Example:All of the money from our healthy economy is going into the pockets of wealthy corporate thieves. The notion, or premise, that wealth consists of a finite number of dollars is a famous fallacious assumption of the economically illiterate. If that premise were true, the socialists would have an argument. But the premise is wrong: wealth is created, almost miraculously, out of work, investment, creativity, and risk. There is no end to it.
Another famous example which contains this fallacy, from the late, lamented Johnny Cochran: "If the glove don't fit, you must acquit." How many assumptions are built into that assertion, besides the stated one? Enough for an acquittal by a jury which couldn't see his tricks, or refused to. The assumptions of the premise were, of course, that a murderer would only wear gloves that fit well, that blood-soaked gloves would not shrink, etc etc - but, most of all, the assumption that the jury would welcome any excuse to acquit. They took the bait and swallowed the hook, too.
Always examine the premise or assumption of an argument before taking on the logical flow. They are commonly hidden, or implied by tricksters so that it all seems to make sense if the premise is accepted. That is Rule #1.
Thanks again for another great entry in this series. I really enjoy it and it's a great way to introduce these concept to young history students whose brains have been atrophied by years of PS eduction.