Alice and Bob are discussing their recently ended short relationship. The ending of the relationship was instigated by Alice.

Bob indicates that he thinks it is a shame the relationship ended.

Alice observes "But you don't love me, Bob".

Based on information gleaned from less carefully worded discussions during happier times, the man knows that whether he loves her or not at this early stage in the relationship is unimportant to the Alice, and so concludes this is a rhetorical device.

As such it is very effective in that it acts to confuse the discussion and results in him being unable to respond in the affirmative.

Bob is forced to admit that, no, he does not love her.

Bob knows that pursuing the point further by indicating that he knows this is unimportant to her leaves him in the weak rhetorical position of saying that he knows her better than she knows herself.

And, so with that, the immediate discussion is concluded.

Is there a word or phrase to describe this type of rhetorical device; that wins a discussion via an implied false premise?

  • 1
    Alice knows that Bob doesn't love her. If he did, he would have said so. This is called pragmatism. :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 15:45
  • But Alice doesn't care that Bob doesn't love her - that is point of the question.
    – 52d6c6af
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 16:17
  • You have so much to learn about women... :) She's left before she started having feelings for him. Self-preservation, and again pragmatism.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 16:30
  • 1
    I think @Mari-LouA and Alice are right and Bob is wrong.For his next girlfriend, Bob will need to get used to accepting that he's wrong most of the time to make the relationship work.
    – user31341
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 17:14
  • That Bob... He never learns... will he ever find happiness?
    – Marv Mills
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 17:34

3 Answers 3


Let's go with argument from authority. Alice assumes herself to be an expert in the matters of love, and she speaks confidently about the topic. Bob, who may also be an expert, but is less confident, cedes authority to Alice and loses the argument on non-logical grounds. It's a special case of the device where the speaker herself/himself asserts the authority rather than citing a 3rd person authority.

  • But this doesn't capture the fact that the argument is crafted specifically to imply a false premise that cannot be refuted.
    – 52d6c6af
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 15:19
  • @Ben all fallacies introduce an implied premise whose truth is unestablished. the false premise in this case is that Alice knows more about love than Bob does. It would only make things worse for Bob to bring the premise up in order to refute it. Alice could easily pick out a time where Bob behaved as a non-expert in love.
    – user31341
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 15:28

This is an example of using incorrect pronouns. The correct statement is:

"But I don't love you, Bob".

A classical psychiatrist would call it projection.
A lawyer would declare: assumes facts not in evidence.

  • Haha. Very good...
    – 52d6c6af
    Commented Nov 2, 2014 at 15:16

I would call it entrapment with a hint of social engineering and/or emotional manipulation.

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