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Unformatted text preview: Persuasion Through Rhetoric
Words, Phrases, and Simple Assertions PHIL 102 CSUC A psychological point about rhetoric and suggestion... It's a fact that even fleeting impressions may have measurable influence on behavior. The operation of such influences may occur below the threshold of consciousness. The positive and negative impressions made by use of rhetorical devices, while they may sometimes seem trivial, can have powerful and long-lasting effects. Critical thinking addresses influence of rhetoric in two ways:
1. It helps identify attempts at non-argumentative persuasion 2. It helps check "spontaneous" beliefs and impulses Euphemisms and Dysphemisms Words or phrases that are substituted for other words or phrases to put what is being discussed in a more positive or negative light
Euphemism: "Infidelity" becomes "an indiscretion". Dysphemism: "Spouse" becomes "ball and chain". Rhetorical Comparisons, Definitions, and Explanations Ways of speaking that depart positively or negatively from a fair or neutral position Problems of content, not of form
Comparison: "Talking to you is like trying to talk to the Iranians." (landlord to insistent tenant) Definition: religion - the opiate of the people Explanation: Franklin stayed in France throughout the revolution because he was a celebrity there. Stereotype May function as an unexamined assumption behind a premise When directly expressed, takes the form of a generalization As expectation, may cause an observer to ignore conflicting phenomena or supply consistent details that never occurred Innuendo A suggestion/ implication that is made indirectly Often creates a negative impression May be constructed by association with something negative or by faint praise
Example: Student Y? Yes, I remember her. She satisfied the minimum requirements of the course. Loaded Question Often a yes-no question or a false dilemma, but could occur with any question form Answering directly requires accepting or presuming a questionable, hostile, or unjustified assumption May function similarly to innuendo Examples: Are you still afraid to stand up for your rights? Should I ask her to marry me or just never see her again? Have you always been such a bore? Weaseler A word or phrase that deceptively weakens a claim Not to be confused with careful qualification
Example: Save up to 40% (when typical savings will be less) It is entirely possible that he could be guilty of the crime. Downplayer A word, phrase, or punctuation that subtly diminishes a concept or weakens a claim May overlap with weaseler Example 1: Today's "patriots" are just looking for a way to make a quick buck in Iraq. Example 2: I understand your wages are low, but it's normal for some full-time workers in any modern society to be below the poverty line. (Notice how the individual's particular situation is effectively submerged.) Horse Laugh/ Ridicule/ Sarcasm An attempt to weaken a claim or undermine credibility by making an idea or person appear ridiculous May make use of other devices, e.g., hyperbole, slippery slope
Example 1: Schwarzenegger says he likes the nurses but not the nurses' union. Well, duh! You can't grope a union. Example 2: You don't like how the PATRIOT Act expands police powers? How about the next time you need help, try calling a hippie. Hyperbole Use of exaggeration to make an impression of greater importance or deviation from expectations May show up in other devices, e.g., ridicule, slippery slope, straw man, poisoning the well
Example 1: What I need is a vehicle that can go anywhere. Example 2: "While this framework does a good job of catering to environmental extremists, it falls alarmingly short of addressing the rising threat of wildfires facing our forests." (Rep. Wally Herger, on the Sierra Nevada Framework, 11/03) Proof Surrogate An assertion or strong suggestion that good evidence exists somewhere May make use of listed, but unchecked or unverifiable references
Examples: Unnamed sources report that... Experts agree that... I read on the Internet that... (if used as evidence) ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2008 for the course PHIL 102 taught by Professor Curtispeldo during the Spring '08 term at CSU Chico.
- Spring '08