General Question

rockfan's avatar

Is the question “Do you stand with President Donald Trump?” an example of a loaded question or begging the question?

Asked by rockfan (9714points) 3 months ago from iPhone

Or can it be an example of both?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

14 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

No. A loaded question demands a yes or no answer when neither is appropriate due to a presupposition contained in the question. The classic example, of course, is “Have you stopped beating your wife?” The presupposition here is that you do beat your wife, and both a “yes” and a “no” would confirm that presupposition (since the question is whether or not you have stopped beating your wife, not whether or not you have ever beaten her in the first place).

Begging the question, meanwhile, requires a complete argument (rather than just a question), and one of the premises of the argument must assume the truth of the conclusion somehow (often by being a restatement of it). Good examples are harder to find here, but the classic one comes from Molière’s play, The Imaginary Invalid. “How does opium cause sleep? Because of its soporific power!” A “soporific power” is just the ability to cause sleep, so the doctor character is basically saying “it is able to cause sleep because it has the ability to cause sleep.”

kritiper's avatar

Could be a perfect example of “Some things are better left unsaid.”

elbanditoroso's avatar

I kneel with Kaepernick.

I don’t know if it’s a loaded question, per se, but it is a question where there is one expected answer, and not answering it in the ‘expected’ way would be deemed unusual.

“Stand with” definitely has the meaning of “support” or “agree with”, so the implication is that if you want to say “yes” (and most people do) then there is only one way to answer it.

janbb's avatar

It’s a loaded question when they ask you to donate when the answer is “yes” and that’s where these questions usually lead.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@janbb Sure, context is important. Even “have you stopped beating your wife?” can stop being a loaded question if you’ve already admitted to beating your wife. But you can answer the question “Do you stand with Donald Trump?” with either a “yes” or a “no” without confirming some further presupposition contained within the question itself. Using an affirmative answer to then suggest that you ought to donate money makes the question leading, but not loaded.

janbb's avatar

@SavoirFaire You’re the expert!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@janbb It’s an interesting border case, to be sure. If you don’t mind me poaching the example, I would like to use it as part of a lesson on the difference between presupposition and implicature for my argumentative writing class.

flutherother's avatar

The answer in my case would be an emphatic no, but I do consider the question a little loaded. Standing with someone is usually a friendly and an honourable act and so the question seems weighted in favour of a positive reply.

filmfann's avatar

Does anyone think he is standing?

KNOWITALL's avatar

It could be considered a loaded question (laymans terms) in this political climate but not by definition, no.

Jeruba's avatar

“Begging the question” doesn’t mean raising a question or begging for an answer. We often see it misused that way: someone will say “X begs the question Y” as if to say that X makes you want to know the answer to Y. For example, a person in a budget meeting might say, “Putting more money into outdoor lighting begs the question, where are the funds going to come from?” This is not at all what it means.

Understanding what it does mean is harder. It takes some study to get it right, and once you do, it’s hard to explain it clearly to others. Here’s my advice: don’t use it.

MrGrimm888's avatar

It’s loaded with emotion. Trump is so polarizing, that there is likely a knee jerk response to it from a responder. From my observations, there aren’t a lot of people on the fence any more. The question will likely get a strong response in one of two directions. Even if asked on a site with exponentially more users.

rockfan's avatar

I guess I’m just coming from a nuanced political point of view, rather than a linguistics point of view.

For example, if I answer no, then the person asking the question will think that I dislike everything Trump has done in the past two years, and will do in the future. Which is patently false, when Trump does something I agree with, I give him credit.

But I see now that it’s technically not an example of these two fallacies

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rockfan It’s probably worth noting that a question can use loaded language without itself being a loaded question. That might be at least a partial explanation of your suspicion here.

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