Denying the Antecedent: A Common Fallacy?

Michael B. Burke


An argumentative passage that might appear to be an instance of denying the antecedent will generally admit of an alternative interpretation, one on which the conditional contained by the passage is a preface to the argument rather than a premise of it. On this interpretation. which generally is a more charitable one, the conditional plays a certain dialectical role and, in some cases, a rhetorical role as welL Assuming only a very weak principle of exigetical charity, I consider what it would take in a given case to justify accepting the less charitable interpretation. I then present evidence that those conditions are seldom met. Indeed, I was unable to find a single published argument that can justifiably be charged with denying the antecedent.


fallacies, arguments, informal logic, logic

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ISSN: 0824-2577