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Sept 8th

Page history last edited by Jared 11 years, 2 months ago

On deck:

-introducing (fun with) fallacies

-new tools!

-review responses / let's talk about drugs

-rhetorical exercise #1



Fun with Fallacies: The Colbert Report




8/11/2007, 14:50: here


Resemblance: We should treat marijuana like alchohol

Evaluation: We lead the world in locking up our population; half of all the arrests in this country are from marijuana

Cause/Consequence: The only thing keeping me from getting high right now is that it's against the law


Epiplexis (the evil twin of the rhetorical question)

  • Are you too hopped up on the screamers to sit down right now?
  • Do I live in a commune and have a love baby?
  • What do you want to decriminalize? The glint?


Guilty By Association (the evil twin of the resemblance stasis)

  • You sound like a communist
  • Why don't you go to Europe?
  • You're Al Capone's best friend
  • You get your money from George Soros…you’re socialist my friend


Black-or-White Fallacy (the evil twin of cause-consequence stases)

  • We have lost the war on drugs when we withdraw from the war on drugs
  • Are you soft on crime? ...Ipso facto, or whatever Latin phrase you want to use, you are soft on crime
  • You’re a socialist, yes or no?


The Rhetorical Toolbox


The effect of speech upon the condition of the soul is comparable to the power of drugs over the nature of bodies. For just as different drugs dispel different secretions form the body, and some bring an end to disease and others to life, so also in the case of speeches, some distress, others delight, some cause fear, others make the hearers bold, and some drug and bewitch the soul with a kind of evil persuasion (Gorgias' Encomium).


What's in the Toolbox?



New Tools Today?

  • Counter-argument and Counter-Example
  • The "Framer's" Card and other arguments from authority
  • They Say/I Say strategies for keying in on controversies and common places

  • Stasis that work as Prediction "Tropes" (cause/consequence, evaluation, proposal)
  • eutripismus (divided and conquer)




Gore Vidal


Thesis: "It is possible to stop most drug addiction in the United States within a very short time. Simply make all drugs available and sell them at cost."


Enthymeme/Stasis time:


Claim: Narcotics should be decriminalized (what kind of stasis is this?)

  • In the "thesis" version above, what kind of stasis is used?

Stated Reason:

Unstated Assumption:



They Say/I Say strategies:

When comparing Gore’s and Dalrymple’s texts on drugs based on rhetorical techniques, I feel that Dalrymple is somewhat more practiced than Gore. First and foremost, Dalrymple understood and presented the opposing arguments on his points, listing them plainly before stating his arguments. He also introduced the main point of his writing, that drugs should not be legalized, fairly early. These are both discussed in They Say/I Say. Gore also introduced his point early, in the second sentence, but he fails to mention the opposing arguments much, if at all. Gore’s main rhetorical technique is found in the passage, “For the record, I have tried - once - almost every drug and liked none, disproving the popular Fu Manchu theory that a single whiff of opium will enslave the mind.” Here Gore uses Logos  Ethos, providing a personal example (or his personal experience with drugs).


Artistic Appeal strategies:


Name your Stasis: 

Vidal's "Drugs" takes the form of a proposal, but at least two other stasis issues are very prominent in his piece. Which ones stood out to you?


Why is/isn't Vidal's argument successful?


  • example



  • example


Ominatio: Will anything sensible be done? Of course not. The American people are as devoted to the idea of sin and its punishment as they are to making money - and fighting drugs is nearly as big a business as pushing them. Since the combination of sin and money is irresistible (particularly to the professional politician), the situation will only grow worse.


Don't Legalize Drugs



by Theodore Dalrymple


Thesis: Drugs should not be legalized because...

Strategy: counter-argument & counter-example, definition, evaluation, anti-proposal, cataplexis, slippery slope


They Say/I Say Strategies:


The Real the Ideal and the Consequential:

Dalyrmple and Gore are on opposing sides of a proposition (this controversy provides the exigence for their arguments, as controversies provide the exigence for almost all arguments). However, unlike many other controversies, this issue - the criminalization of narcotics - has long been already "decided" (most of the narcotics under review in their writing have been criminalized, at this point, for around a half-century).

  • How does their opposite position on a "decided issue" or "status quo" topic present them with different challenges and/or alter their overall rhetorical strategies?


Eutripismus: The arguments in favor of legalizing the use of all narcotic and stimulant drugs are twofold: philosophical and pragmatic. Neither argument is negligible, but both are mistaken, I believe, and both miss the point.


  • How do their different positions with/against the status quo impact their treatment of resemblance and/or cause/consequence arguments?



The Slippery Slope: The extreme intellectual elegance of the proposal to legalize the distribution and consumption of drugs, touted as the solution to so many problems at once (AIDS, crime, overcrowding in the prisons, and even the attractiveness of drugs to foolish young people) should give rise to skepticism. Social problems are not usually like that. Analogies with the Prohibition era, often drawn by those who would legalize drugs, are false and inexact: it is one thing to attempt to ban a substance that has been in customary use for centuries by at least nine-tenths of the adult population, and quite another to retain a ban on substances that are still not in customary use, in an attempt to ensure that they never do become customary.




Rock-em Sock-em Rhetorical Exercise #1:


6 groups (of 4 ish)



-learn to see and work with commonplace positions on a topic 

-learn how/why to (often) "start with a summary" of diverging positions/views

-learn how to present your position as part of a larger "conversation"

-practice how to analyze the construction of claims and to leverage this for an argument

-practice developing and improving enthymemes

-practice avoiding 'spurious enthymemes'




Task: Construct 2 to 3 short paragraphs.  

Goal: Winning


First Paragraph's Purpose: Use a template from They Say / I Say to introduce both positions as an ongoing debate, and summarize their positions succinctly.  Include a 'choice' quote from each author (cite in MLA or APA style).


Second Paragraph's Purpose:  Presents your team's position on the issue.  The position/claim you make can:

  • defend one of the above
  • attack one of the above
  • stake a claim for middle ground
  • stake a claim for common ground
  • stake a claim for a new position (difficult in this case) 

Any position you pick must remain "in conversation" with the initial positions.  Part of your position should be formulated as as an enthymeme. Part of your position should suggest one of the stasis protocols that you will use to develop your position.  


Third Paragraph's Purpose (optional)to point out a fallacy in one author's argument -- and to use it to forward your position in some way. (bonus points for finding a 'spurious enthymeme' instead -- see below)


Spurious Enthymemes:  


The hollow conclusion -- is a final claim that you can prove to be an 'undeveloped' or 'unsupported' enthymeme.  In other words, it is central claim made that was never proven or 'comes from nowhere' without ever walking the reader through a 'process' of reasoning in support.


The slippery swap -- unlike the slippery slope, this an error based on the use of similar words for different things.  If you can pinpoint where the author 'stretches' a term inappropriately or tries to use a key term to do something it should probably not.


The false synecdoche -- synecdoche means using part of something to represent the whole (or vice versa) or a specific smaller class of thing to refer to larger more general one.  This can go horribly wrong.


The essential accident -- related to the cause/effect stasis, this is when someone represents the accidental as essential


related: 'the argument from consequence' -- to argue wrongly, or without proof, that because something happened/was caused (i.e. Gary decided to become a hermit and live in the woods) there was a necessary/knowable cause of that consequence (Gary must have been cocky/arrogant) 




Post your paragraphs here on the ROCK'EM SOCK'EM PAGE before next class


vote for the most persuasive and well written execution.


All three classes will compete for the best set of paragraphs -- the winning team will receive one extra credit (valued at one response) to use at their discretion.


Criteria for evaluation (also on Rock'em sock'em page):

  • Paragraphs are concise with carefully crafted sentences.  
  • First paragraph offers a sufficiently complex summary of both positions.  
  • Both positions presented 'generously' or evenly at first. 
  • Team's position seems to be "part of some larger conversation" and seems to be a convincing/persuasive response to this conversation.
  • Team's position is sound and worthy of further discussion, research and exploration.
  • Team correctly identifies an fallacy or spurious enthymeme and uses it to forward their position.




Assignment for Thursday:


Reading Assignments:

  • Read Instructions for Project One
  • Chapters 3 ("Finding Arguments") and 6 ("Analyzing Visual Arguments") in Good Reasons (30-51; 90-100)
  • (optional) Read Barthes' "The Rhetoric of the Image" (embedded below); click thilink for a picture of the advertisement that Barthes is referencing.


Comments (2)

mike said

at 12:54 pm on Sep 8, 2011

Interesting day..

Yashvir Riar said

at 1:19 pm on Sep 8, 2011

Got connected to WSU-Secure, thanks a ton! Got a couple more questions about this in regards to remotely connecting to it though, I'll ask you next class.

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