ARGUMENT: A discourse intended to persuade an audience through reasons and/or evidence
Five Canons of Rhetoric • Invention • Arrangement • Style • Memory (primarily concerned with oral or spoken rhetoric) • Delivery (primarily concerned with oral or spoken rhetoric)
INVENTION • Invention is the process of coming up with ideas for speaking or writing. • The three “proofs” or appeals: ethos, logos, pathos • Syllogism: chain of reasoning moving from general, universal principles to specific instances • Enthymeme: a shortened syllogism that omits the universal principle
Syllogism: All people are mortal. Aristotle was a person. Therefore, Aristotle was mortal. • Enthymeme: Aristotle was mortal because he was a person. • In an argument, the writer can leave out the universal principle because everyone would agree that all people are mortal. However, an argument may be vulnerable if the audience does not accept the unstated principle that supports the argument.
ARRANGEMENT • Introduction • Background information (the facts) • The proposition (thesis, main idea) • Main headings or topics (outline of what is to follow) • Arguments supporting the proposition (evidence) • Anticipation and refutation of counter-arguments • Conclusion
STYLE: how to express the ideas • Diction • Syntax • Figurative language • Rhetorical devices
Elements of argument • Claim: statement of position; an arguable statement; thesis statement • Reasons: support claims • Warrant: unstated assumption that makes the enthymeme work • Grounds: actual evidence in support of the reasons (facts, citations from authorities, examples, statistics) • Backing: supports the warrant • Conditions of rebuttal: attacks the reasons and grounds and/or the warrant and backing • Qualifier: limits the scope of the claim
AH HOMINEM • An attack on the person instead of the idea • Attack on the speaker’s sincerity • Attack a whole class of people • Attack by innuendo • Attack by disrespect • Attack on intelligence • Poisoning the well: discrediting sources used by your opponent • Example: “Von Daniken’s books about ancient astronomers are worthless because he’s a convicted forger and embezzler.”
STRAW MAN FALLACY • Fallacy of extension • Attacking an exaggerated or caricatured claim of your opponent’s position • Example: the claim that gay marriage will result in people marrying dogs, cats, or children • The claim that universal health care will result in “death panels”
STACKING THE DECK • Using arguments that support your opinion but ignoring or disallowing the arguments against • Example: Saying that your opponent has changed his mind three times on the issue , so he must be indecisive, without looking at the reasons his mind changed • Using “weasel words” in advertisements, like “helps control dandruff” or “25% more”
FALSE DICHOTOMY • Assuming there are only two alternatives when in fact there are more • Example:”Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
BURDEN OF PROOF • The claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true (or vice versa) • Remember: “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” • Example: Because we have no absolute proof that global warming is caused by human activity, there is nothing we can do about it.
RHETORICAL QUESTION • Asking a question that leads to particular answer • Rhetorical questions propel an argument emotionally. They often look like extensions of a logical argument, but more often than not, they are setting the audience up to agree with the rhetor. • Example: When are we going to give senior citizens the medical care they deserve?
REDUCTIVE FALLACY • Oversimplification • Example: Government should be run like a business • Example: All taxation is theft.
BEGGING THE QUESTION • This argument occurs when the speaker states a claim that includes a word ot phrase that needs to be defined before the argument can proceed • Circular reasoning: the thing to be proved is one of the assumptions • Example: Because of the extreme conditions before us, we must pass this legislation. • What questions need to be answered? (What conditions are extreme? What will the legislation to to alleviate the conditions?)
HASTY GENERALIZATIONS • Insufficient selective evidence • An argument stating that something is true because it’s never been proven false (or vice versa) • Example: “Ping-pong is a dangerous sport; last year my friend was hit in the eye with a ping-pong ball and almost lost his vision in that eye.” • “God exists because no one has proven that he doesn’t.” “God doesn’t exist because no one has proven that he does.”
NON SEQUITUR • A statement that does not relate logically to the one that comes before it; argument by misdirection • Example: “If you really wanted to get a 5 on the AP Language and Composition exam, you wouldn’t spend so much time reading the novels of Isabel Allende.”
SLIPPERY SLOPE • Also called Domino Theory • Argues that one thing will inevitable lead to another, that dire consequences will result from relatively minor causes • Example: “If we don’t enforce the rules on dress code and cell phones, they pretty soon we’ll have gang wars in the hallways of our school.” “We cannot allow legalized marijuana or we’ll soon have a country full of drug addicts.”
Post hoc ergo propter hoc • “After this, therefore because of this” • Setting up a cause-and-effect relationship where none in fact exists • The basis of some superstitions • Example: Violent crime among adolescents has risen in the past decade and that is a result of increased sales of violent video games. • I always wear my purple shirt on testing days, and I always pass. Therefore, my purple shirt causes me to pass my exams.”
RED HERRING • Attempts to shift attention away from an important issue by introducing an issue that has no logical connection to the discussion at hand • Example:
BANDWAGON • Vox populi • “Everyone’s doing it” • Succeeds because people have a deep desire not to be different, to “belong” • Example: “All my friends get to stay out all night, so I should get to stay out all night too.” • “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” • “Cheating is okay because everyone does it.”
FALSE ANALOGY • Use of an inappropriate metaphor • Illogical misleading comparison between two things • Example: The earth is like a watch and, just as a watch must be created, so also the earth was created.” • Computers decode, compute, draw conclusions, and propose solutions, just like the human brain. Computers can think.”
NAME-CALLING • Negatively charged names are hurled against the opposing sides in an effort to arouse feelings of mistrust, fear, or hate • Political example: calling an opponent a “flip-flopper,” “fence-sitter,” “dues-paying member of the ACLU,” “eco-terrorist,” “war-monger,” or “soft on terrorism” • Commercial example: “foreign” car rather than “imported” car
GLITTERING GENERALITIES • Using words with positive connotations but which are vague, difficult to define, or have different meanings to different people • Political examples: “freedom,” “progress,” “democratic,” “justice” • Commercial examples: Joy dishwashing detergent; Loving Care hair dye; Almost Home cookies; GE “brings good things to life;” Chevrolet is the “heartbeat of America”
TRANSFER • Improving the image of something by associating it with a symbol most people respect • Both politicians and advertisers use transfer effectively • Most common symbols: the flag; the Statue of Liberty; Uncle Sam; the colors red, white, and blue; churches; patriotic songs
TESTIMONIAL • Use of a celebrity, who may or may not be qualified to speak on a issue, to endorse a product or a politician
PLAIN FOLKS • Appeal to “average” people • “I’m just like you.” • Political examples: politicians wearing hard hats, military uniforms, lumberjack shirts; use of colloquial language that mirrors the audience’s language; “I’m you.” • Commercial examples: using people who work the assembly line to advertise products (Honey Bunches of Oats); showing grandmas talking to their grandchildren on the phone or over the Internet (implying that AT&T has the same values that we do)
CARD-STACKING • When people say that “the cards were stacked against me,” they mean that they weren’t given a fair chance. Applied to propaganda, it means that one side may suppress or distort evidence, tell half-truths, make a unfinished claim, oversimplify the facts, or set up a ‘straw man’—a false target—to divert attention from the issue. • Political example: claims that an opponent has changed his mind on an issue and says he “waffles” without looking at the reasons he may have changed his mind • Commercial example: “weasel words:” • “helps control dandruff;” “most dentists surveyed recommend. . .;” “price lower than most comparable cars” • “twice as much pain reliever;” “400% quieter;” “Coke is the real thing”
Using euphemisms and emotionally connotative words to sway the audience’s sentiments instead of their minds • Equivocation: telling part of the truth while deliberately hiding the entire truth (lying by omission)