The structure is as follow:

  • Person A states argument X.
  • Person B says that things are not so simple to discredit argument X. A special case is when B argues that: "this-is-not-about-D", pretending that person A is using a false dilemma D.

Of course, B's argument could be completely legit or right, but not always:

  • (A) Sometimes B doesn't properly explain why X is overly simplistic, insufficient or a false dilema.
  • (B) Sometimes B presents a falsely related fact Y to confuse person A and then state X is too simplistic because he didn't consider things like Y.

Case B can be confused with two well-known fallacies, but I don't thing it qualifies as such:

  • The introduction of Y is not a straw man fallacy because person B doesn't argue against Y as a way to argue against X, because person B doesn't argue against Y at all.
  • Y is more like a distraction, but I don't see it as a red herring either because the distraction Y is not used to avoid arguing against X, rather, is to confuse person A and then argue against X without justification because person A is too confused to argue back.

Has this fallacy a name?

  • A false dilemma must have a logical for EITHER A or B when there are other alternatives not mentioned. So the structure section of you explanation has errors. If Joe claims x Tom should not bring something about D with no explanation. Show how D is related to x or it is not a factor. One cannot claim a false dilemma without justification either.one must show an either or type argument or there is no dilemma. It does seem to bother you that Person B can make any claim he desires & be accidentally correct. This is not a fallacy.
    – Logikal
    May 28, 2022 at 20:49
  • @Logikal I'm thinking about something like: Peter says "Mark shouldn't have bought the company of Billy; he has no rights to do it", and Susan replies: "this isn't about what is right or not, this is about <complex explanation about how economy and society intertwines>". Susan is suggesting Peter is oversimplistic and makes him believe the question/dilemma of rights or not isn't the way to analyze the situation. Susan is neither talking about Mark, nor explaining why isn't about rights. She is just claiming it's not, and then "talking stuff" to make Peter unsure about what to say anymore.
    – ABu
    May 28, 2022 at 21:08
  • 1
    It is not technically a false dilemma as I described in my first comment. The original proposition doesn't have a either . .Or component. Susan can't add a dilemma to the original proposition.Valid means something totally different from your use in philosophy & math. Susan presents no argument whatsoever. She is rambling. Every part of communication is not an argument. I get the frustration you are expressing. Susan doesn't even touch the original proposition by Mark so she did not reduce Mark's claim. She rejects Mark but offers no specific justification. She is ambiguous intentionally.
    – Logikal
    May 28, 2022 at 21:54
  • 1
    All informal fallacies attack the CONTENT of an argument not an argument FORM. Mathematical logic does not address CONTENT. Mathematical logic is concerned with FORM alone. All fallacies are repeated patterns where the conclusion can be false while the premises are true. So in reality because we recognize a repeated pattern that is A FORM. Notice there is a context switch there. Form in the latter expresses a repeated pattern where in FORMAL LOGIC specifically named inferences are referred to. Inductive reasoning can lead to fallacies but these are strictly defined by how one explains them.
    – Logikal
    May 28, 2022 at 22:27
  • 1
    An ad hom proper IS an INFORMAL FALLACY. However most cases people use that term they are misusing it. An ad hom proper does not attack the FORM of the argument. Ad hominem has a specific pattern & not just throwing insults at someone. There are 5 variations of the ad hominem attack. You can look up the proper ad hominem definition from philosophy texts written by philosophers. Rhetoric & Psychology can use the exact same terminology differently. This is why many people are confused because of the different contexts. Insults alone does not automatically mean ad hominem fallacy like many think.
    – Logikal
    May 28, 2022 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


Broadly speaking, we can break this into three cases:

  • The argument X is a (purely) deductive argument - if the premises of X are true, then the conclusion of X logically follows from them. In this case, we may either attack the argument as invalid (i.e. the conclusion does not actually follow from the premises) or attack the premises as untrue, but either way, bringing in additional facts accomplishes nothing, so that's a non sequitur fallacy. However, if your interlocutor responds with such extraneous facts, they may have mistaken your argument for an inductive or abductive argument, so you should apply the principle of charity and strive to clarify that you really are presenting a pure deductive argument from known or admitted premises.
  • The argument X is (primarily) inductive - that is, it presents a pattern of facts and tries to conclude that the pattern will continue or be repeated elsewhere. In this case, it is entirely valid and justifiable to bring in additional facts which break the pattern in order to refute X - the "pattern" may simply be a fluke, and bringing in more examples may show that it doesn't really exist. For example, if someone is trying to argue that a specific economic or political policy tends to produce good results based on some particular set of examples, it is valid to point out other cases where that policy did not work as well. However, this assumes that the fact is actually relevant; if it has nothing to do with the pattern, then it's just a non sequitur. In a political context, it's sometimes called "whataboutism" because these fallacies usually take the form "What about X?" where X is some unrelated or tangentially-related fact.
  • The argument X is (primarily) abductive - that is, it presents a set of facts, and tries to identify the most straightforward explanation for those facts. In this case, identifying facts which are inconsistent with the conclusion of X is not only valid, but it may be the only effective way to refute X (that, or identifying a simpler alternative to X). For example, if someone is arguing in favor of Newton's law of universal gravitation because it's the simplest explanation for the planetary orbits, it is valid to bring in the orbit of Mercury as a counterexample where Newtonian gravitation provides the wrong answer.

Since you have told us literally nothing about X or Y, I can't identify which of these cases you're talking about.

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