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Argument by Emotive Language

(also known as: loaded words, loaded language, euphemisms)

Description: Substituting facts and evidence with words that stir up emotion, with the attempt to manipulate others into accepting the truth of the argument.

Logical Form:

Person A claims that X is true.

Person A uses very powerful and emotive language in the claim.

Therefore, X is true.

Example #1:

By rejecting God, you are rejecting goodness, kindness, and love itself.

Explanation: Instead of just “not believing” in God, we are  “rejecting” God, which is a much stronger term—especially when God is associated with “goodness.”

Example #2:

The Bible is filled with stories of God's magic.

Explanation: Instead of using the more accepted term “miracles,” the word “magic” is used that connotes powers associated with fantasy and make-believe in an attempt to make the stories in the Bible seem foolish.

Example #3:

I don’t see what’s wrong with engaging the services of a professional escort.

Explanation: That’s just a nice way of saying, “soliciting a hooker.”  No matter what you call it unless you live in certain parts of Nevada (or other parts of the world), it is still illegal.

Exception: Language is powerful and should be used to draw in emotions, but never at the expense of valid reasoning and evidence.

References:

Walton, D. (2006). Fundamentals of Critical Argumentation. Cambridge University Press.


Registered User Comments

Nik Dan
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - 09:51:22 AM
"I don’t see what’s wrong with engaging the services of a professional escort.

Explanation: That’s just a nice way of saying, “soliciting a hooker.” No matter what you call it unless you live in certain parts of Nevada (or other parts of the world), it is still illegal."

But the original argument is not that "soliciting a hooker" is legal. It is that he doesn't think it is wrong, which isn't the same thing at all - and if enough people believe and argue the same and vote accordingly, "soliciting a hooker" has the potential to become legal in any democracy - just like any other controversial practice, like smoking marijuana. I'm not saying it should, only that it could happen, and citing its currently illegal status (not even the world over) is not evidence of any logical fallacy in the statement "I see nothing wrong with it".

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - 09:56:58 AM
Point taken. However, "wrong" in this sense is not the same as "morally wrong." For example, is there anything wrong with not stopping at a stop sign? Well, yes, it's illegal. It's not morally wrong, but in terms of legality it is wrong. When I wrote the example, I was thinking of "wrong" in the context of the law... someone would change the language to make an illegal act (whether morally wrong or not) appear legal.

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Nik Dan
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - 10:29:23 AM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: I see. Yes, if we do not equate "wrong" with "morally wrong", then I understand the example better.

I have to argue with not stopping at a stop sign not being morally wrong. Any kind of irresponsible driving has potential for grievous, even lethal harm not only for the driver and his passengers, but for everyone around the car, other drivers and pedestrians.

I'm not arguing that people that run stop signs are morally repugnant psychopaths. People knowningly run stop signs for either convenience or what they believe to be very good reasons (they simply can't be late for that meeting), often believing - beyond all reason, but that's people - that the possibility of an accident happening (and therefore its consequences) is non-existent. I think that most of us simply aren't used to thinking of our driving behavior in terms of morality. But that doesn't mean there isn't a moral element to it.

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Tuesday, April 24, 2018 - 10:59:00 AM
@Nik Dan: If this helps, picture going 1 mph through the stop sign after carefully looking all ways rather than speeding though it recklessly.

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Joe Walker
Saturday, January 21, 2017 - 01:35:13 PM
Is this a logical fallacy?

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