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False Proposition

 

Techniques General persuasion > The Art of Being Right > False Proposition

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

To prove the truth of a proposition, you may also employ previous propositions that are not true, should your opponent refuse to admit the true ones, either because he fails to perceive their truth, or because he sees that the thesis immediately follows from them. In that case the plan is to take propositions which are false in themselves but true for your opponent, and argue from the way in which he thinks, that is to say, ex concessis. For a true conclusion may follow from false premisses, but not vice versa. In the same fashion your opponent's false propositions may be refuted by other false propositions, which he, however, takes to be true; for it is with him that you have to do, and you must use the thoughts that he uses. For instance, if he is a member of some sect to which you do not belong, you may employ the declared, opinions of this sect against him, as principles.

Example

Consider political speeches, where the speaker seems to be following a logical chain of thought but somehow you know that the final conclusion is wrong but cannot quite put your finger on where it started. Or perhaps you are listening to another person and disagree with one point but they keep making other points and by the time you get to speak you have either forgotten the wrong point or it seems impolite to go back so far.

Discussion

This approach is like building houses on sand. When the foundations are not true, then nothing else stands.

An approach that is often taken to cover up false propositions is to make multiple propositions in the same speech, such that by the time the other person gets to speak, the original false propositions have long passed by.

Ex concessis means 'in view of what has already been accepted'.

False Proposition is the fifth of Schopenhauer's stratagems.

See also

False Cause, Wishful Thinking

 

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