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Is there a word for distracting someone from the topic of the argument, and using the authority they have established in the mean time to (fallaciously) prove their original point?

An example

I claim that the language of Schoenberg's innovations do not refer directly to life. I can provide a number of quotes, e.g. Schoenberg begins an essay

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or opinion on his music:

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or a comment in Pauline Johnson's Marxist Aesthetics, that "the discovery of the correctness of the work's representation of social life is a task for the specialist critic."


They reply with just the one equivocating quote:

“It may be that Schoenberg’s final loosening of tonal ties bore some relation to events in his personal life”

I reply to repeat that perhaps I am wrong, that I know very little about music. They then start arguing about 'certainty': alternative logics, Godel, Hegel, paradoxes of self reference etc. (in the mean time committing to the existence of everything we can conceive of). And they seem to think that they have proven their point, in this mess: that I'm wrong about Schoenberg!

  • Can you give an example? What is "coherent" argument? Sound, just valid, something else? If you already admitted that your assumptions are arguably wrong, depending on context, there may be no need to discuss the matter further. In this case, "something else" is not a distraction, it is called changing the subject. Where does "authority established in the meantime" come from, and how exactly does it help prove the original point? Is "something else" related to it? – Conifold Jun 23 '19 at 20:47
  • not easily... an apparent inability to recognize what an argument depends on. so a weak argument against one of my assumptions, which is drowned out in a lot of irrelevant points @Conifold – user38026 Jun 24 '19 at 17:29
  • It is not very clear what you are asking. "Apparent inability to recognize", "weak argument", "irrelevant points" is a list of assessments rather than something to go on. It may well be that the points were relevant, the argument solid, and you did not fully appreciate the dependencies, according to your interlocutors. Admitting "arguably wrong" concedes the point, instead you should have inquired if they simply question your assumptions or intend to prove them wrong. If the former, you need to defend them (this is your argument), if not, the burden of proof shifts to them. – Conifold Jun 24 '19 at 17:50
  • it doesn't concede the point, very many things are arguably wrong... i am asking whether distracting someone from the argument with an ability to talk "authoritatively" on something else falls under a a term of art @Conifold – user38026 Jun 24 '19 at 17:55
  • Whatever many things are, doing it in a debate will be taken as conceding the point, and justifiably so. If you can not defend plausibility of your premises, you do not have an argument. And where does the "ability to talk authoritatively" come from? Given your sentiment, you apparently do not recognize this authority. Is this a public debate? What it sounds like is them taking tactical advantage of your own mistake, as they should, and it is unclear if the "distracting" happened at all, assuming "something else" was relevant to the "original point". If it was not it would be a red herring. – Conifold Jun 24 '19 at 18:06

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