February 5, 2013 by Julie
This is information taken from Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings, Seventh edition by Ramage, Bean, & Johnson.
About classical rhetoric:
There are three parts of an argument: pathos, ethos, and logos. Argument here does not mean fight. It means, more or less, a discussion on a topic where the parties are looking for a truth or Truth, which they should honestly seek; however, some who argue are sophists–people who just want to sound good because it gives them fame or power. Sophists are able to use fallacies convincingly. In this post, I wanted to talk about fallacies. Fallacies are misrepresentations or missteps in argument.
“Fallacies of pathos rest on flaws in the way an argument appeals to the audience’s emotions and values.”
- Symbol–Appealing to an audience by using a symbol that provokes an emotion or certain train of thought; for example,
- Ignorance–claiming that something is true that is false or yet to be proven or claiming something is false that is really true; for example, the Holocaust never happened.
- Popularity–claiming something is good because it is popular; for example, everyone else thinks that abortions are safe and right; therefore, they must be safe and right.
- Pity–using another person’s sympathy in order to do something unjust; for example, she shouldn’t be expected to feed her baby every night because she is tired from working.
- Red herring–talking about something else to divert attention away from the main issue; for example, the Church does not want to pay for abortions because Johnny fell off his bike…did you see that? and they do not believe in women’s reproductive health either. So there.
“Fallacies of ethos rest on flaws in the way the argument appeals to the character of opponents or of sources and witnesses within an argument.”
- False authority–basing judgment of something on the person’s fame rather than if or whether this person has competence; for instance, I am going to vote for ________ because ________(favorite singer) supports him (see also celebrity-ism)
- ad hominem–when dealing with an issue, the person or arguer attacks character traits rather than the reasoning of the other person or the main issue; for instance, they don’t know what they are talking about because they wear blue jeans and have blue eyes and are too quiet
- poisoning the well–related to ad hominem in that the arguer says something negative about the person before they can speak; for instance, we all know Jane used to be a drinker, so we cannot necessarily trust her reasoning
- straw man–oversimplifying or misstating the opponents argument so that it can be tackled more easily; for example, men are not women, therefore it is impossible for men to know what healthy means to a woman, or this issue is about reproductive health not religious freedom
“Fallacies of logos rest on flaws in the relationship among statements in an argument.”
- generalization–making a broad generalization based on too little information or evidence; for example, since this person is racist, all people outwardly similar to him are racist, too
- part is the whole–using a sample as representative of all; related to generalization; for example, I was treated unfairly in middle school, therefore all young women are treated unfairly in middle school
- post hoc, ergo propter hoc–when a sequence is mistaken as a causal relationship; suggesting correlation means causation; for example, many babies died because women were not allowed to have abortions (this example is fallacious in other ways)
- circular reasoning–giving a definition of the word rather than any reason; for instance, a dog is a canine because canines are dogs
Let me know what you think!