8.P.Again, the speaker is using peer pressure. Here,the suggestion is that everyone else is voting thesame way, so you should, too. But the speakerdoesn’t provide any logical reasons for votingfor the Democrat.9.L.This time, the speaker gives Joe a good logicalreason for voting along the party line: Theirparty’s candidates will win.10.L.The speaker gives a good reason for consider-ing his or her claim: They feel much bettersince they’ve stopped eating red meat. Ofcourse, you’d probably want to hear moresupporting arguments before you decide, butthis argument doesn’t try to sway you withemotion.PityMs. Riviera, an eighth-grade history teacher, findsone of her students wandering the halls when sheshould be in class. The student tells the teacher,“I’m sorry, Ms. Riviera. I didn’t realize I was outhere so long. I’m just really upset about my mathexam. I studied really hard for it and I only got aD on it. That means I’m going to be kicked off thetennis team!”What should Ms. Riviera do?a.Suspend the student. She should know betterthan this.b.Send the student to the principal’s office.c.Take the student back to class and just give hera warning.d.Call the student’s parents and then expel thestudent.Clearly, options a and d are unreasonable. But shouldMs. Riviera give the student a break (choice c) justbecause she is upset? Is that a good enough reason forMs. Riviera not to follow appropriate procedures, whenthe student clearly broke school rules?Whether or not the student is telling the truth(and that’s something Ms. Riviera will have to deter-mine), she has appealed to another one of the mostpowerful emotions—the sense of pity and compassionfor others. No one wants to be seen as heartless oruncaring. And that’s why the appeal topity, anotherlogical fallacy, often works.–LOGICAL FALLACIES: APPEALS TO EMOTION–78
Here’s another example of an appeal to pity:Think of all the people who can’t afford healthcare.Imagine the physical and emotional anguish theyendure, knowing that having insurance coverage isall that it would take to alleviate their illness or dis-ease. Support healthcare reform—for their sake.Notice that this argument asks the listener to supporta cause purely for emotionalreasons. It appeals to thesense of compassion for those without healthcare.While this may be a compelling argument—after all,these people do deserve compassion—it is not a logicalone. It doesn’t directly address whyhealthcare reformis a reasonable policy.Of course, you will have to judge each situationindividually. But just as with the other appeals to emo-tion, it’s important to have some logical reasons to bal-ance the emotional. Unfortunately, if decisions aremade based purely on pity, they often come back tohaunt you. There are some people in the world who willtake advantage of your sense of compassion, so thinkcarefully before you act on pity alone.
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