Learn Hebrew

Hebrew for Christians
Complex Question

The Complex Question

This fallacy occurs when a single question that is really two (or more) questions is asked, and a single answer is illegitimately applied to both.



  1. Have you stopped beating your wife?
    • If you answer, "yes," then you are trapped into the implication that you have beaten your wife in the past;
    • If you answer "no," then you are trapped into the implication that you are still beating your wife!
    • This is really a disguised form of two separate questions: 1) Have you beaten your wife in the past? and, 2) if so, have you stopped now?
    • Resolution: Expose the trap as really two questions posed to look as one.
  2. You should support home education and the God-given right of parents to raise their children according to their own beliefs.
    • You are asked to agree to both propositions, when you could choose one, either but not both, or perhaps both.
  3. Do you support freedom and the right to bear arms?
  4. Are you going to be a good little boy and eat your hamburger?
  5. Have you stopped using illegal sales practices?

Note: A "leading question" is one that begs the question of its truth. It is common in law courts. For example:

  1. Tell the court, Mr. Jones, whether on April 9th at approximately 7:25 pm you did see the defendant shoot the deceased?

    This is a leading question since the answer will be used to corroborate the idea that the defendant did indeed shoot the deceased, whereas a more straighforward (and honest) question would be, "Tell the court, Mr. Jones, what did you see on April 9th at 7:25 pm? - This example from Hurley (156).

Proof: Identify the two propositions illegitimately conjoined and show that they are not necessarily logically connected.

Cedarblom and Paulsen: 86, Copi and Cohen: 96

<< Return

Hebrew for Christians
Copyright © John J. Parsons
All rights reserved.