Remember these tests when writing your own essays. You are most likely going to be using inductive arguments, and you should make them as reliable and strong as you can because you can bet your professors will be evaluating your arguments by those criteria as well.
Fallacies are errors or tricks of reasoning. A fallacy is an error of reasoning if it occurs accidentally; it is a trick of reasoning if a speaker or writer uses it to deceive or manipulate his audience. Fallacies can be either formal or informal.
Whether a fallacy is an error or a trick, whether it is formal or informal, its use undercuts the validity and soundness of any argument. At the same time, fallacious reasoning can damage the credibility of the speaker or writer and improperly manipulate the emotions of the audience or reader. This is a consideration you must keep in mind as a writer who is trying to maintain credibility ethos with the reader. Moreover, being able to recognize logical fallacies in the speech and writing of others can greatly benefit you as both a college student and a participant in civic life.
Not only does this awareness increase your ability to think and read critically—and thus not be manipulated or fooled—but it also provides you with a strong basis for counter arguments. Even more important, using faulty reasoning is unethical and irresponsible. Using logical fallacies can be incredibly tempting. The unfortunate fact is they work. Every day—particularly in politics and advertising—we can see how using faults and tricks of logic effectively persuade people to support certain individuals, groups, and ideas and, conversely, turn them away from others.
Furthermore, logical fallacies are easy to use. Instead of doing the often difficult work of carefully supporting an argument with facts, logic, and researched evidence, the lazy debater turns routinely to the easy path of tricky reasoning. Human beings too often favor what is easy and effective, even if morally questionable, over what is ethical, particularly if difficult.
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Their job is to teach you how to write, speak, and argue effectively and ethically. To do so, you must recognize and avoid the logical fallacies. Either the premises are untrue, or the argument is invalid. Below is an example of an invalid deductive argument:. Premise : All black bears are omnivores.
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Premise : All raccoons are omnivores. Conclusion : All raccoons are black bears. Bears are a subset of omnivores. Raccoons also are a subset of omnivores. But these two subsets do not overlap, and that fact makes the conclusion illogical. The argument is invalid—that is, the relationship between the two premises does not support the conclusion. However, that and other forms of poor logic play out on a daily basis, and they have real world consequences.
Below is an example of a common fallacious argument:. Premise : All Arabs are Muslims. Premise : All Iranians are Muslims. Conclusion : All Iranians are Arabs. This argument fails on two levels. First, the premises are untrue because, although many Arabs and Iranians are Muslim, not all are. Second, the two ethnic groups Iranians and Arabs are sets that do not overlap; nevertheless, the two groups are confounded because they largely share one quality in common being Muslim. One only has to look at comments on the web to realize that the confusion is widespread and that it influences attitudes and opinions about US foreign policy.
The logical problems make this both an invalid and an unsound argument. Informal fallacies take many forms and are widespread in everyday discourse. Very often they involve bringing irrelevant information into an argument, or they are based on assumptions that, when examined, prove to be incorrect. Formal fallacies are created when the relationship between premises and conclusion does not hold up or when premises are unsound; informal fallacies are more dependent on misuse of language and of evidence.
It is easy to find lists of informal fallacies, but that does not mean that it is always easy to spot them. One way to go about evaluating an argument for fallacies is to return to the concept of the three fundamental appeals: ethos , logos , and pathos. As a quick reminder,. Once you have refreshed your memory of the basics, you may begin to understand how ethos, logos, and pathos can be used appropriately to strengthen your argument or inappropriately to manipulate an audience through the use of fallacies.
Rhetorical Strategies // Purdue Writing Lab
Classifying fallacies as fallacies of ethos, logos, or pathos will help you to understand their nature and to recognize them. Please keep in mind, however, that some fallacies may fit into multiple categories. Fallacies of ethos relate to credibility. These are fallacies of logos. Throughout this chapter, you have studied the definition of argument, parts of argument, and how to use logic in argument. This section brings all of the previous material together and tackles arguments in writing.
This means that written arguments—whether in essay or some other form—also come in many different types. Most arguments involve one or more of the rhetorical modes. Once again, rhetoric is the study and application of effective writing techniques. There are a number of standard rhetorical modes of writing—structural and analytical models that can be used effectively to suit different writing situations.
The rhetorical modes include, but are not limited to, narrative, description, process analysis, illustration and exemplification, cause and effect, comparison, definition, persuasion, and classification. In fact, most professors will insist upon it. Remember that when writing arguments, always be mindful of the point of view you should use.
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Most academic arguments should be pursued using third person. One of the most common forms of argument is that of persuasion , and often standardized tests, like the SOL, will provide writing prompts for persuasive arguments. A common type of persuasive essay is an Op-Ed article. Included in the opinion section of a newspaper, these articles are more appropriately called argument essays because most authors strive not only to make explicit claims but also to support their claims, sometimes even with researched evidence.
Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion
In addition to essays, other forms of persuasive writing exist. One common and important example is the job letter , where you must persuade others to believe in your merits as a worker and performer so that you might be hired.
Because argument writing is designed to convince readers of an idea they may not have known before or a side of an issue they may not agree with, you must think carefully about the attitude you wish to convey as you advance your argument. Then, do the following:. Prewriting Work: Read the article carefully, taking notes or annotating it. Be sure to find the main argument and map the support used by the author, i. Note any use of rhetorical appeals, expert testimony, and research.
Write a paragraph summary of the article.
Include the main argument and its support. Explain the different types of support used by the author rhetorical appeals, expert testimony, and research.
Defining a Persuasive Speech
In a paragraph, explain what kind of support you would use for your counterargument. What rhetorical appeals would you use? What experts might you call on? Do you think you would need to do research and if so, on what? Use formal letter format. Prewriting Work 1: Imagine a job you would like to apply for. Prewriting Work 2: Take the notes you have come up with and add as many specific details as you can.
If you believe you do have relevant skills, what are they, specifically? Where did you get those skills, specifically? How long have you had those skills, specifically? Do you have examples where you have shown excellence with those skills, specifically? Drafting: Shape your details into three paragraphs organized by issue: skills, education, and experience.
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Be specific, include a couple examples per paragraph, and be succinct in your delivery. Proofread carefully. First of all, excellent sentence composition, punctuation, and spelling communicate your seriousness to those who might hire you. Mistakes make you look sloppy and make it easy for them to toss your letter on the rejection pile. Second, watch word choice. Choose specific over general words as much as possible you say you are a hard worker, but what does that mean, practically speaking?
Finally, proofread for tone. Strive for courteousness and objectivity. Make it seem like you are being objective about your own abilities. If you have ever answered a question about your personal take on a book or movie or television show or piece of music, you have given a review.