• I know some of you might consider this question general reference, but think of all those people who will be reading it all over the world and how it will enrich our data bank.

  • Of course we all know how expensive it would be to build new headquarters for our institute. But think of what is going to happen to our research center and our reputation if we don't

Edit - changed "fallacy" to "rhetorical strategy"

  • 21
    This is not a fallacy. This is a rhetorical strategy, and a very successful and common one. It has nothing to do with logic, only presentation. Oct 1, 2014 at 15:58
  • How about replacing 'flaw' here with 'potential sticking point'? Surely nobody points out what's wrong with his argument. He should rethink it. He's pointing out where differences of opinion about policy are likely to occur. Oct 1, 2014 at 16:28
  • 4
    It is not a fallacy. It is a strategy. A preemptive strategy. A preemptive reflexive strategy - to first point out the perceived weakness and in reflex use its mitigation as a magnet to coagulate the effectiveness of your strategy. Oct 1, 2014 at 16:37
  • 2
    What kind of fallacy did the asker make here by assuming it's a fallacy, when it's only a strategy whose argument might contain a fallacy?
    – Tim S.
    Oct 1, 2014 at 20:34
  • 1
    @BlessedGeek, your “magnet to coagulate effectiveness” phrase is absurd. Oct 1, 2014 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


That's not a logical fallacy. It's a very common rhetorical tactic called procatalepsis, or more colloquially in American English, prebuttal.

The strategy consists of anticipating your opponent's argument, and then responding to it, as if they had raised the objection themselves. That way, they can't later raise that objection, because you've already done it for them and explained why that line of thinking would be wrong.

Of course, the way in which you respond to the argument may contain a logical fallacy, but that's a separate issue from the fact that the rhetorical strategy is being used at all.

  • But if there is a flaw in your argument, you can't explain why your opponent's [expected] argument will be wrong. Procatalepsis seems to refer to a successful pre-emptive counter to an expected counter-argument, not a prior admission of the inadequacy of one's own. Oct 1, 2014 at 16:07
  • 1
    Rhetorically speaking, it's only a flaw if someone applies the critical thinking necessary to determine that this is true. Otherwise, it may seem like a very reasonable thing to say and be quite persuasive to the audience. That's why logical fallacies aren't always obvious to observers. Oct 1, 2014 at 16:14
  • 2
    The definitions I can find say that procatalepsis is an attempt to respond pre-emptively to expected arguments. It doesn't have to be a valid or successful response, any more than it would be if the response were made after the objection.
    – Barmar
    Oct 1, 2014 at 16:16
  • ... Sounds like orcish mischief to me. Politics. OK, I'll leave logic behind for a few moments (in any case, OP's examples are hardly black and white). Oct 1, 2014 at 16:19
  • 2
    @Barmar An obvious lack of flaw polish. Oct 1, 2014 at 16:25

It's not a fallacy. But you could call the rhetorical technique a stratagem.

an artifice or trick in war for deceiving and outwitting the enemy

skill in ruses or trickery

Dale Carnegie proffered this stratagem in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

In "Be a Leader," points 8 and 9 are:

  • Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
  • Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.

Carnegie suggests for the eighth point that you surface a flaw in your own proposal that is easy for the hearer to correct. When the hearer recognizes the easy solution, he begins to have some emotional connection to the idea. He begins to embrace your idea as his own idea, and then (in the ninth point) is happy to do what you suggest.

  • 2
    You could call it a "statement" and a "sentence" too. Each of these would be true, but don't really provide the meaning asked for in the question. "strategem" is not "a kind of strategy where you point out the fallacy before anyone else can". "strategem" is any kind of strategy.... Oct 2, 2014 at 2:37
  • Please take a look at the definition of stratagem, listed in the answer. Stratagem is not any kind of strategy. Stratagem contains the sense of a trick or a ruse. Torpedoing your own proposal in order to promote it has the feel of a ruse.
    – rajah9
    Oct 2, 2014 at 13:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.