Introduction to Rhetoric
EN 1007 – Fall 2009 – Carol Poster
Lecture 11 – Dec 07
- What is a fallacy and how to avoid it?
o Consideration of fallacy.
o Logic and fact.
o Fallacies are where rhetoric can go wrong, in the sense of correctness
and ethics. A false argument is not only a factual problem but it also
presents an ethical one. What happens if for example you are reasoning
incorrectly in an advertisement that is trying to convince people to buy
drugs that are not good for them? What happens when you don’t admit to
a full collection of facts? As you are campaigning.
o A lot of what may look like narrow problems have serious consequences.
o From Plato’s Georgia’s – platonic justice – doing an injustice was worse
than suffering an injustice. When you do something wrong you corrupt
o Whately – if you argue things which are wrong, or persuade people of
things that are not true, you gradually retort your own ways of thinking and
o Ethical concern considering fallacies.
o Types of fallacies – arguments can be wrong in two ways.
Facts and logic. These are independent of one another.
Material and formal in syllogisms.
Material is about correctness in fact. Are the claims you are making
individually corresponding to an external reality.
Formal is about connections. Connections among facts and
statements. All dogs are purple. A Dalmatian is a dog. Therefore
Dalmatians are purple. Materially incorrect, formally correct. Some
dogs are very small. A husky is a dog. Huskies are small. If you
want to come to the right answer you need formal correctness and
material correctness. Incorrectly distributed middle term. The
relationship between the two prepositions is not what it should be
and therefore the conclusion does not follow.
o Typically not questions about areas of fact but categories of how you can
go wrong in reason. An inference where the conclusion does not follow
from the premises.
o Should know the most common fallacies and be aware of at least 10 of
o Ad homimem means against the man or against the person. This has to
do with the truth of the statement is not dependent of the person saying
o In rhetoric we don’t always operate on the level of real logic. - Bus drivers know bus routes. Bob is a bus driver. Therefore bob knows the bus
routes. We have to be aware of the fallacy of the ad homimem argument.
- Political goes into a very personal ad homimem argument.
- Ad homimem tu quoque
o A difference between someone’s knowledge and their actions.
o Akrasia –