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Appeal to Anger

argumentum ad iram

(also known as: appeal to hatred, loathing, appeal to outrage, etc.)

Description: When the emotions of anger, hatred, or rage are substituted for evidence in an argument.

Logical Forms:

Person 1 claims that X is true.

Person 1 is outraged.

Therefore, X is true.

 

Claim A is made.

You are outraged by claim A.

Therefore, claim A is true/false.

Example #1:

Are you tired of being ignored by your government?  Is it right that the top 1% have so much when the rest of us have so little?  I urge you to vote for me today!

Explanation: This is a common tactic to play on the emotions of others to get them to do what you want them to do.  The fact is, no evidence was given or claim was made linking your vote with the problems going away.  The politician will hope you will make the connection while she can claim innocence down the road when the people attempt to hold the politician to a promise she really never made.

Example #2:

How can you possibly think that humans evolved from monkeys!  Do I look like a flippin' monkey to you?

Explanation: Ignoring the fact that we didn’t evolve from monkeys (we share a common ancestor with modern African apes), the fact that the arguer is obviously offended is irrelevant to the facts.

Exception: Like all appeals to emotion, they work very well when used, in addition to a supported conclusion, not in place of one.

Are you tired of being ignored by your government?  Is it right that the top 1% have so much when the rest of us have so little?  I urge you to vote for me today, and I will spend my career making America a place where the wealth is more evenly distributed!

Tip: The great Yoda once said, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” With all due respect to the cute, little, green guy, anger can be very powerful and effective, as well as lead to great things.  Think of Martin Luther King, Jr.

By the way, Yoda’s statement actually commits the slippery slope fallacy.

References:

Whately, R. (1854). Rhetoric. Griffin.


Registered User Comments

Blake
Friday, February 01, 2019 - 01:45:53 PM
I disagree with the "tip" that is given. Martin Luther King Jr. preached for peaceful protest and against violence and/or anger. He might have felt anger, but he didn't let that drive him. If he did, give an example. Also, for something to be a slippery slope it has to be illogical how one thing leads to another and/or have no evidence as to how you arrived at the given result. Yoda's statement is not illogical. Fear, hate, and suffering are all closely related and often appear together. For example, look at the history of the Native Americans and US. There's also evidence to Yoda's claim, in real life and in the story. Example: the story of Darth Vader, or the way of the sith and the dark side.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, February 01, 2019 - 02:04:53 PM
Hi Blake,

There are many references of how MLK used anger. Here is just one: https://www.cnn.com/2013/04/16/us/king-birmingham-jail-letter-anniversary/index.html. For countless references and sources, google "MLK anger."

Also, for something to be a slippery slope it has to be illogical how one thing leads to another and/or have no evidence as to how you arrived at the given result.

Not really. See how I describe it in detail at https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/162/Slippery-Slope. Very often the connections make sense, this is precisely why this is a fallacy because it misleads so many people. The real problem is, with each step, the probability of the outcomes lowers to the point where it is more improbable than probable.

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Blake
Friday, February 01, 2019 - 03:23:27 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you for your response. I understand what you are saying with MLK Jr. My point was that anger was not the sole cause for the results of the civil rights movement, that is all.
With regards to my second point. Thank you for the clarification. I believe the reason for my blunder was that I did not notice the emphasis on the key word, "Probability". To this I ask, is there an instance where if the probability is great enough, a progression of events will not satisfy the slippery slope fallacy?

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, February 01, 2019 - 04:00:54 PM
@Blake:

To this I ask, is there an instance where if the probability is great enough, a progression of events will not satisfy the slippery slope fallacy?

Certainly! There are many valid slippery slopes based on reasonable cause and effect. For example, "If you fail all of your classes, you will get kicked out college, and it will considerably more difficult to find a high-paying job in your chosen field, and you will likely be less satisfied with your life." You can take each event and demonstrate either causality or strong correlation with the event that follows. Of course, like all informal fallacies there is an element of subjectivity and room for constructive argumentation :)

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Blake
Friday, February 01, 2019 - 04:26:21 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: So Yoda's quote could be considered a valid slippery slope instead of simply being invalid? Meaning you could use it as a point of constructive argument?

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Friday, February 01, 2019 - 04:49:22 PM
@Blake: You can consider it a valid slippery slope... in fact anyone can consider any fallacy a non-fallacy.

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Blake
Friday, February 01, 2019 - 04:53:43 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Based on their principles? Or some other reason?

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