‘Argument from silence’

/ 05:10 AM October 05, 2018

To argue that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV did not apply for amnesty because his application for amnesty is missing is to commit the fallacy of argument from silence. This fallacy of reasoning states that if a record of an event cannot be found, then that event did not occur. This argument is erroneous, because an event could have happened even if no record of it could be found. In other words, lack of record does not disprove an event.

Examples: If a person has no criminal record, it does not mean he hasn’t committed any crime. He could have committed a crime, but he hasn’t been caught. That is why there is no record.


Just because one has no certificate of employment from a certain company, it does not follow that she did not work there. There is no certificate because the company did not release one, or she did not ask for it.

One cannot say that he did not buy an item just because the receipt is missing. He could have made the purchase, but he threw away the receipt.


Inability to produce a marriage contract does not prove that one did not get married. Likewise, one cannot conclude that Trillanes did not apply for amnesty because his application for amnesty cannot be produced. Someone might just have misplaced, hidden or even destroyed the documents.

It is possible that the application is missing, because the senator really did not apply for amnesty. However, we believe that a person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. If the absence of an application form for amnesty is not automatic proof of such nonapplication, then Trillanes must be presumed innocent. Case dismissed.

JORI GERVASIO R. BENZON, [email protected]

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TAGS: amnesty, opinion, Philippines, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV
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