The Place of Emotion in Argument

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Appeals to emotion—pity, fear, popular sentiment, and ad hominem attacks—are commonly used in argumentation. Instead of dismissing these appeals as fallacious wherever they occur, as many do, Walton urges that each use be judged on its merits. He distinguished three main categories of evaluation.

First, is it reasonable, even if not conclusive, as an argument?

Second, is it weak and therefore open to critical questioning for argument? And third, is it fallacious?

The third category is a strong charge that incurs a critical burden to back it up by citing evidence from the given text and context of dialogue.

Walton uses fifty-six case studies to demonstrate that the problem of emotional fallacies is much subtler than has been previously believed. Ranging over commercial advertisements, political debates, union-management negotiations, and ethical disputes, the case studies reveal that these four types of appeals, while based on presumptive reasoning that are tentative and subject to default, are not always or necessarily fallacious types of argumentation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Walton offers some very perceptive criticisms and points on the subject of emotional appeals. His critique of the standard textbook treatment of the subject is a valuable counter to the excesses of the conventional wisdom that this treatment perpetuates, and his observations on the necessity of considering context when assessing the cogency of arguments based on emotional appeals throw important light on the subtleties of such assessments. In these and other ways his book corrects and enlarges our understanding of informal fallacies.”
—John Deigh, Informal Logic

Living Poetically is a magnificent piece of work on a very important theme. The concepts of the aesthetic and the poetic in Kierkegaard have been much neglected, so this is a book that will make a real contribution; it will immediately become the standard work on this subject and will probably remain so for a long time to come. Walsh has an absolute mastery of the Kierkegaardian corpus and a truly impressive command of the secondary literature, yet she wears this learning lightly. In addition to the intrinsic interest of the themes treated, the contemporary relevance of the book is greatly enhanced by the running polemic with some French feminists who have allied feminism with postmodernism. Though Walsh is certainly a feminist herself, and though she clearly scores Kierkegaard for sexist claims, she argues that there is a deep affinity between this kind of postmodernist feminism and the romantic ironists who are the main targets of Kierkegaard’s criticisms. The claim that Kierkegaard’s criticisms of romantic ironists apply with force to some versions of contemporary postmodernism is certain to be controversial, but so far as I can see, the case Walsh makes is well done, and this is exactly the kind of critical discussion that postmodern thinkers need.”
—C. Stephen Evans, St. Olaf College

Living Poetically addresses the debate over Kierkegaard and aesthetics with impressive authority. Walsh demonstrates that contemporary postmodern efforts to idealize the aesthetic in abstraction from the ethical and the religious are no more responsible than older voices that viewed the aesthetic with little more than suspicion. She argues that Kierkegaard embraces all three, for life is really complete only when paradoxical faith and ethical freedom are both infused with poetic richness.”
—Stephen Dunning, University of Pennsylvania

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271008530
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 6/10/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

Advice to the Reader
1 Argument and Fallacy 1
Four Fallacies 2
Two Other Arguments Ad 4
Historical Background 6
Three Concepts of Reasoning 11
The Concept of Fallacy 16
Types of Dialogue 19
Dialectical Shifts 23
Emotional Commitment and Bias 25
Evaluating Appeals to Emotion 27
Two Reservations 28
2 Presumptive Reasoning 31
Presumptive Reasoning and Knowledge 32
Presumption Defaults and Fallacies 35
Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam 39
Hard and Soft Evidence 42
Argumentum Ad Verecundiam 47
Argumentation Scheme for Appeal to Expert Opinion 50
Legal Uses of Expert Testimony 53
The Function of Presumption in Dialogue 56
Speech Act Conditions for Presumption 59
Cognitive Value of Presumptive Reasoning 61
3 Argumentum Ad Populum 65
Appeals to Emotion 66
Audience-Directed Argumentation 69
Relevance 73
The Fallacy of Popularity 76
The Dialectical Shift Theory 79
A Classic Case 82
Political Discourse 87
Epideictic Speeches 91
Presumptive Inferences 94
When Is It a Fallacy? 97
4 Argumentum Ad Misericordiam 105
Textbook Accounts 106
Reasonable Appeals to Pity 109
Charitable Appeals 112
Excuses 116
Countering Relevant Appeals 119
The Case of the Non-Smokers' Health Act 123
Pushing a Questionable Presumption 129
Appeals to Pity and Loaded Questions 132
Evaluating Cases 136
Evaluating Appeals to Pity 140
5 Argumentum Ad Baculum 143
The Textbook Accounts 144
Defining Argumentum Ad Baculum 149
Should Appeals to Fear Be Included? 152
When Is Using a Threat Fallacious? 158
Direct Ad Baculum Arguments 162
Argument from Consequences 165
Three Levels of Analysis 170
Scaremongering and Intimidation 174
Analysis of the Fallacy 179
A Pragmatic Analysis 183
6 Argumentum Ad Hominem 191
Are Ad Hominem Arguments Necessarily Fallacious? 193
Source-Based Evidence 196
Ethos: The Pedestal Effect 199
Circumstantial Ad Hominem 201
Bias Ad Hominem 206
Poisoning the Well 209
Tu Quoque Arguments 211
Eristic Dialogue 214
The Shift to the Quarrel 217
Personalization of Argument 219
7 Borderline Cases 225
The Drug Test Case 226
Pinning Down a Case 228
The Mouse Trap Case 230
Evaluating the Appeal to Fear 233
Judging Individual Cases 235
Guilt by Association and Poisoning the Well 236
Threatening Slippery Slopes 240
Hombac Argumentation 244
Hompop and Miserhom Argumentation 247
Bacpop and Miserpop Argumentation 250
8 Right and Wrong Use of Emotional Appeals 253
Value of Arguments That Appeal to Emotion 254
Four Kinds of Argument Defined 258
Emotional Fallacies 260
Emotional Appeal and Bias 264
Defining Bias 265
Critical Doubt 267
Types of Bias 270
The Group Quarrel 273
Dogmatism, Prejudice, and Fanaticism 276
Bibliography 281
Index 287
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