Rhetorical ploys and fallacies

Substantive fallacies 11 6 Further fallacies 139

Sometimes we are moved to accept or reject claims when we have been given no good grounds for doing so. Often this is because speakers or writers attempt to persuade us in ways which appear to provide good reasons but which do not really. We'll call these persuasive devices sham-reasons and the process of employing them sham-reasoning. As critical thinkers we should be alert to the possibility of sham-reasoning, take care to avoid being persuaded by attempts to persuade which rely upon it, and avoid using sham-reasons in our own attempts to persuade others. We are interested in two types of sham-reasoning: rhetorical ploys and fallacies. This chapter aims to equip you to distinguish between rhetorical ploys and fallacies; to familiarise you with various common types of sham-reasoning, and to develop strategies of reconstruction and evaluation that will enable you to deal with them when analysing, assessing and constructing attempts to persuade.

Neither rhetorical ploys nor fallacies provide us with good reasons to accept the claim they are intended to support. Fallacies are argumentative sham-reasoning. That is, they are still arguments in the sense that fits our definition of a set of propositions, some of which are premises, one of which is a conclusion, the latter intended to follow from the former. But in one way or another, they are bad arguments. Rhetorical ploys, on the other hand, are non-argumentative sham-reasoning: some of these persuasive devices may pretend to provide reasons for accepting a claim, but their real persuasive capacity depends on something non-argumentative. Recall our earlier definition of rhetoric as:

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Responses

  • grimalda
    How are rhetorical ploys different from fallacies?
    8 years ago

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