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Incomplete Circumlocution Fallacy

Updated Jun 4, 2023

Understanding the Incomplete Circumlocution Fallacy

Have you ever found yourself engaged in a debate or argument where the other person seems to be going around in circles, avoiding the main point? If so, you may have encountered the incomplete circumlocution fallacy. This fallacy occurs when someone uses excessive and unnecessary wordiness or tangents to distract from the main issue at hand. In this article, we will dive deeper into the incomplete circumlocution fallacy, understand its implications, and explore some examples to help you identify and respond effectively when faced with this fallacious argumentation technique.

What is the Incomplete Circumlocution Fallacy?

The term "circumlocution" refers to the act of speaking or writing in a roundabout way, using more words than necessary to express an idea. The incomplete circumlocution fallacy occurs when someone engages in this behavior but fails to address the main point or question being discussed. Instead of directly and concisely addressing the issue, they intentionally or unintentionally veer off onto tangents or irrelevant points, leading to a lack of clarity and resolution.

Implications of the Incomplete Circumlocution Fallacy

When someone employs the incomplete circumlocution fallacy, it can have several implications on the overall discourse. Let's explore some of the key implications:

1. Diversion from the Main Issue

The primary consequence of the incomplete circumlocution fallacy is the diversion from the main issue under consideration. By introducing tangents and unnecessary details, the person employing this fallacy attempts to steer the conversation away from the core topic. This diversion can make it difficult to address the original question or concern effectively.

2. Obfuscation of the Argument

Another implication of this fallacy is the obfuscation of the argument. By using excessive wordiness or tangents, the person aims to confuse or cloud the discussion, making it harder for others to follow their line of reasoning or challenge their claims. This tactic can be particularly frustrating when seeking clarity or resolution.

3. Waste of Time and Resources

Engaging in an argument or debate takes time and effort from all parties involved. When someone uses the incomplete circumlocution fallacy, they waste not only their own time but also that of others. By failing to address the central point directly, they prolong the discussion unnecessarily and hinder progress towards a resolution.

Examples of the Incomplete Circumlocution Fallacy

To better understand the incomplete circumlocution fallacy, let's examine a couple of examples:

Example 1:

Person A: "I believe we should invest in renewable energy sources to combat climate change effectively." Person B: "Well, you know, there are so many factors to consider, like the economic impact, the political landscape, and the potential impact on existing industries. Plus, we must also take into account the historical context and global geopolitical dynamics. So, it's not as simple as just investing in renewable energy."

In this example, Person B uses excessive circumlocution and introduces several tangents, intentionally avoiding addressing the main point raised by Person A. By diverting the conversation towards various factors and global dynamics, they evade the core issue of investing in renewable energy.

Example 2:

Person A: "The safety protocols in this workplace are inadequate. We need to address these concerns immediately." Person B: "I mean, we do have some safety protocols in place, and they are similar to what other companies in our industry follow. However, we have to consider the recent budget cuts, the increasing workload, and the fact that accidents can happen anywhere, not just here. So, it's important to look at the bigger picture."

In this example, Person B employs the incomplete circumlocution fallacy by introducing various tangents and attempting to shift the focus away from the main concern – the inadequate safety protocols. By talking about budget cuts, workload, and accidents in general, they avoid directly addressing the specific concerns raised by Person A.

Responding to the Incomplete Circumlocution Fallacy

When faced with the incomplete circumlocution fallacy, it's essential to stay focused and redirect the conversation back to the main point. Here are a few strategies to effectively respond:

  1. Acknowledge the diversion: Point out that the person seems to be avoiding the main issue and request a direct response to the original question or concern.
  2. Ask for clarification: Seek clarification on how the tangents or irrelevant points raised relate to the central topic, emphasizing the need for a clear and concise response.
  3. Restate the main point: Reiterate the main question or concern to bring the conversation back on track and prevent further diversion.
  4. Provide evidence or examples: Support your argument with specific evidence or examples related to the central issue to highlight the importance of addressing it directly.

By employing these response strategies,

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