I seek an elegant term for argument or technique of rhetoric that takes the form of dismising the question, instead of responding to the argument.

I first assumed that this would be a fallacy of logic; I have looked at various articles, including Wikipedia's list of fallacies, and on several prior E.SE questions, but I'm not finding something that seems to capture this; I don't (yet) think I'm being too picky. :)

I don't think it's exactly any of these somewhat related topics:

The two parts, in sum:

  • Is there an elegant name for the act of dismissing a question as a rhetorical technique?
  • (in terms of its usage) Should that argument be considered logical fallacy?
  • Being able to say (with analysis) "That question does not have a meaningful answer in this system" is a vital part of logic and mathematics. Do you mean something else? Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 22:42
  • In debate, dropping the question gives the point to the last person to discuss the topic. In that situation, it's not a fallacy, just a bad tactic.
    – PixPrefect
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 22:44
  • Maybe it's just reframing the issue and is not a fallacy at all.
    – bib
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 0:32
  • @TimLymington, et al.: agreed; but in this case, I'm framing this as an "invalid" or "unfair" rhetorical technique like ad hominem. Respondent offers no reason for dismissing the question under debate. It could take the form of something like, "The question is not pertinent/relevant in the system," but that gives too much credit to the technique. I think I shall edit the question with an example, if I can think of something exemplary. I want to label the technique, but perhaps I should be satisfied with bib's "reframing the issue" or the original "dismissing the question."
    – hoc_age
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:34
  • For a perfect example of this, see this 1984 sketch from the television program Saturday Night Live: dailymotion.com/video/x54vjpp.
    – mweiss
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 3:50

2 Answers 2


This isn't actually a fallacy, because there's no argument being made, the question is simply being dismissed, and I don't believe there's any more apt phrase for this that just dismissing the question.

If the other person offers reasons for the dismissal, that would constitute an argument, and thus potentially a fallacy, but which one would depend on what the reasons were.

You might also want to try http://philosophy.stackexchange.com if your question is more about logical analysis than about terminology.

  • I am indeed seeking a term. I'm ascribing a negative connotation to the act of question dismissal as an "unfair" rhetorical technique, as a means for avoidance. I pose this situation as to be analogous to ad hominem; instead of offering rhetoric or reason as a response to the argument at hand, the responding party attacks the person. I'm using "question" in the sense of the basis for a debate, against which arguments should be made. Perhaps the original question is not sufficiently clear.
    – hoc_age
    Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 15:18
  • 1
    The original question is fine, but the fact remains that there's no argument here, and therefore no fallacy. If you make your best argument, and the other person simply refuses to engage, about the worst you can ascribe to them is passive-aggression. Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 1:23

Hope this helps:

To "hedge" means to avoid making a definite decision, statement, or commitment.

"Hedge" as a noun means a calculatedly noncommittal or evasive statement.

If you hedge a statement or question, then you are turning it down by not making a statement or doing something else to avoid making a committment.

Look it uo on MW or OED.

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