I have a manager at work who often comes up with shortsighted ideas and then expects his staff to adopt them. On occasions, my colleagues (his staff) will suggest improvements to his ideas that offer demonstrable, measurable positive impact--representing a superior idea. Despite efforts, however, the manager often struggles to grasp the superior idea we put forth and instead bullheadedly adopts his original idea, asking "What's the harm in doing it my way?"
The logic/language issue I want to discuss here is the use of the word harm. When an idea is sub-optimal or simply shortsighted, it doesn't mean that it must be harmful. It just might be inferior. By putting the team in the position of having to explain what's harmful about his inferior ideas, we lose sight of what's about dumb about it! We're often left at a loss for words because he's asking a question that doesn't apply. What he should be asking is "why is your idea better?" or "why is my idea inferior?"--but not "why is my idea harmful?" any more than he should be asking "why is my idea funny?" I believe this manager has learned that by asking a question that nearly always will have "nothing" as its answer, he is able to advance bad ideas. And that's actually the real harm...
What is an effective rebuttal to such misdirected questions as "what's the harm"? Surely, this is a logical fallacy of some sort--I just don't know enough about logic to know (but I sense it!). The question is loaded because if there is no harm to speak of then you have to reply "there is no harm"--then you get a gleeful "Well, then, if there's no harm then let's go with my idea!" response.
To point out to the manager that it's not a question of harm, it's a question of "which idea is intrinsically better?" might be a start; but are there tried-and-true rebuttals to this misguided way of defending one's inferior ideas?