The fallacy of ignoring qualifications, or secundum quid et simpliciter, is a deceptive strategy that is pervasive in argumentative dialogues, discourses, and discussions. It consists in misrepresenting an utterance so that its meaning is broadened, narrowed, or simply modified to pursue different goals, such as drawing a specific conclusion, attacking the interlocutor, or generating humorous reactions. The “secundum quid” was described by Aristotle as an interpretative manipulative strategy, based on the contrast between the “proper” sense of a statement and its meaning taken absolutely or in a certain respect. However, how can an “unqualified” statement have a proper meaning different from the qualified one, and vice versa? This “linguistic” fallacy brings to light a complex relationship between pragmatics, argumentation, and interpretation. The secundum quid is described in this paper as a manipulative argument, whose deceptive effect lies in its pragmatic dimension. This fallacy is analyzed as a strategy of decontextualization lying at the interface between pragmatics and argumentation and consisting of the unwarranted passage from an utterance to its semantic representation. By ignoring the available evidence and the presumptive interpretation of a statement, the speaker places it in a different context or suppresses textual and contextual evidence to infer a specific meaning different from the presumable one.
- Ignoring qualifications