If someone asks a question that is based on multiple premises, can a valid answer simply refute any of the premises? Specifically in a case where one premise appears to precede a second one, can a valid answer simply refute the second premise without noting that you should never even get to the second premise because the first premise is incorrect? Does it make a difference if the first premise has already been addressed in comments or other answers?

For reference, this is inspired by this answer to this question with the comments to the answer.

1 Answer 1


If the answer addresses the question meaningfully, including by undermining an incorrect premise it depends on, then it's a valid answer. How fitting or valuable it is is up to the judgement of the reader/voter.

If a question depends on multiple incorrect premises, each of which is valuable to correct, then I'd imagine that speaking relatively, an answer that addresses all of these premises in a well-organized fashion would generally be more valuable than an answer that addresses only one.

  • I agree that it is better to address as many incorrect premises as possible in one's answer. In the specific case that inspired this, the first premise had already been addressed in comments to the question. So I guess what I am really asking is if the first premise has already been refuted in comments or a prior answer, would it still be relevant to post an answer that says that even were the first premise to be true the second premise is not true? Or would we say that since the question can never get off the ground without the first premise, there is no need to address the second premise?
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 4:45
  • @Alex comments may be deleted at any time
    – Isaac Moses Mod
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 6:14
  • Fair point.....
    – Alex
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 6:19

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