Rhetorical ploys ( C.R.)

There is a range of rhetorical ploys that attemp to tap into specific feelings in order to influence our behavior and opinion ( especially our consumer behavior). Here we diccuess a number of the most common. Some of them are not strictly or specifically linguistic ploys, but this will not affect the points we need to make.
  • Appeals to specific feelings
    1. Appeal to novelty: Here someone attempts to persuade us to try or buy something because the item is new, and by implication, different from and better than existing related items.
    2. Appeal to popularity: Like the appeal to novelty, this ploy appeals to our desire to run with the crowd, not to appear different from the norm and not to miss out on what others have. Again, it is commonly used to persuade us to buy things, but also occurs frequently as a means to persuade us to adopt a belief or to follow a certain course of action.
    3. Appeal to compassion, pity or guilt: This common rhetorical ploy operates by attempting to move us to do something purely by evoking a feeling of compassion towards the recioients of the suggested act or belief, or a feeling of guilt about their plight.
    4. Appeal to cuteness: This rhetorical technique supplements its words with images of children, animals or animated characters to deliver a message.
    5. Appeal to sexiness: This is similar to the appeal to cuteness, except that it uses a different type of image. It also has a further dimension. To those who would desire the sexy person depicted in the advertisement. But, it is also made to seem desireable to those who would like to think of themselves as sexy in the way that the sexy person is.
    6. Appeals to wealth, atatus, power, hipness, coolness, etc: These are analogy with the appeals to cuteness and sexiness.
    7. Appeal to fear: This is the tactic of trying to elicit a fear in one’s readers or listeners in order to influence their behavior or attitude. The appeal to fear should be distinguished from genuine warnings. In instances of the former, there is no warranted connection between the fear elicited and taking the suggested course of action or accepting the claim. Whereas in the case of a warning, we are given a good reason to act.
    8. Thw direct attack and hard sell: The direct attack is the simplest of all rhetorical ploys. It occurs most frequently in advertising, thought it also appears in political campaigning. It often takes the form of a very simple slogen.
    9. Buzzwords: This is the technique of using fashionable or otherwise currently ‘hot’ words or phrases that are loaded with rhetorical power due to their rich secondary connotation.
    10. Scare quotes: This tactic is a means of influencing opinion against a view that one opposes. The speaker/writer takes key words in terms of which their opponent expresses their views and attempts to discredit those views by making them appear ridiculous or suspicious through the use of scare quotes.
    11. Trading on an equivocation: This ploy delibertely exploits the ambiguity, and in some cases the vagueness, of a word or phrase in the given context. Although nothing false is claimed, the speaker or writer manages to influence our actions or belifs by misleading us.
    12. Trading on implicature: This is the tactic of using a statement’s implicature to mislead audience.
    13. Smokescreen: This is the tactic of avoiding discuession of an issue or acknowledgement of a point through diverting ot distracting one;s opponent from the issue at hand by adressing a different (possibly related) issue.
  • Fallacies: a fallacy is a mistake in reasoning.
    1. Affirming the consequent of a conditional: This occurs when we argue from the conditional premise(假定) that if P (the antecedent), then Q (the consequent) together with the premise that Q to the conclusion that P.
    2. Denying the antecedent of a conditional: This is the fallacy that occurs when we argue from a conditional premise (if P then Q) together with the negation of its antecedent (not-P) for the conclusion that the concequent is also negated (not-Q).
    3. Fallacy of deriving ‘ought’ from ‘is’ : The fact that something is thus-and-so is insufficient as a reason for thinking that one ought to act in such-and-such a way.
    4. The base rate fallacy: It is committed when an argument takes the following form: the proportion of one group that has a certain feature is higher than the proportion of another group that has that feature. Therefore, some X that has that feature is more likely to be from the first group than the second.
  • Substantive fallacies: The first 2 substantive fallacies that we consider involve an illegitimate inference from the prevalence of a belief or an action to its acceptability.
    1. The fallacy of major belief: This is the fallacy of concluding, on the basis of the fact that the majority believe a certain proposition, that the proposition is true.
    2. Common practice: This is the tactic of attempting to persuade someone to do something they shouldn’t do by giving them the justification that ‘everyone does it’.
    3. Ad hominem: This fallacy (from the Latin, meaning ‘to the man’) can be committed in 2 ways: either by responding to someone’s argument by making an attack upon the person, rather than addressing the argument itself, or by rejecting a claim because of disapproval of or dislike for the person who make it.
    4. Ad hominem circumstantial: This is a sub-species of the ad hominem fallacy and occurs when someone’s argument in favour of doing or believing something is discounted on the grounds that they would allegedly benefit from our doing or believing it.
    5. Tu quoque: In common with ad hominem fallacies, the tu quoque (‘you too’) fallacy occurs when we make unwarranted connections between a person’s alleged lack of credibility and the strength of their argument.The fallacy is committed when we: reject a person’s claim that a behavior or proposal should be refrained from or discarded on the grounds that they themselves practise that behavior; or when we reject a person’s claim that a behavior or proposal should be adopted on the grounds that they fail to follow it themselves.
    6. Appeal to authority: This argument also involves mistaken assumptions about the people mentioned by an argument. It is committed when an argument makes ab unjustified appeal to an alleged authority. This can occur either because the authority appealed to is not in fact authoritative on the matter in hand or because there is good reason to doubt that the claimed authority is adequately informed of the facts of the matter.
    7. Conflation of morality with legality: This is the mistake of assuming that anything legal must be moral, or conversely, that everything illegal must be immoral.
    8. Weak analogy: Analogies are often interesting and may be illustrative of points one wishes to make, but arguing on the basis of analogy is often unsuccessful and often turns out to be fallacious either because the analogy is too weak to sustain the argument or because the analogy itself has not been argued for. (This makes the argument question-begging.)
  • Causal fallacies: These fallacies are committed when we make mistaken inferences about the cause(s) of something.
    1. Post hoc ergo propter hoc: This fallacy occurs when we mistakenly infer that an event X caused an event Y merely on the basis that Y occurred after X.
    2. Fallacy of mistaking correlation for cause: Whereas the fallacy of Post hoc ergo propter hoc occurs bacause the temporal priority of one event over another is taken as sufficient to establish a causal relationship between those events, thid fallacy is committed when the fact that one type of event or state of affairs is always or usually found in conjunction with another type is mistakenly taken to be sufficient to establish that events or states of affairs of the one type cause the other. In a word, the fallacy is committed when a statistical correlation is assumed, without any further justification, to establish a causal relation.
    3. Inversion of cause and effect: Here one mistakenly infers if X cause Y, an absence of X will prevent Y.
  • Epistemic fallacies: These two fallacies are committeed when we make unwarranted inferences from what is known, believed or proven.
    1. Appeal to ignorance: This is the fallacy of concluding either that because a claim has not been proven it must be false (the negaitive form), or that because it has not been disproved it must be true (the positive form).
    2. Epistemic fallacy: This fallacy (from the Greek epistemic, meaning knowledge) arises because of the fallacy nature of knoeledge and belief, and the difficulty of discerning from the third-personal point of view what someone believes or knows.
  • Equivocation: The rhetorical ploy of trading on an equivocation is the ploy whereby we deliberately use a word or form of words with the intention to confuse the audience; one hopes that the audience will conflate the two or more possible interpretations.
  • Red herring: The red herring fallacy is used as a technique to throw someone off the scent of one’s argument by distracting them with an irrelevance. The rhetorical ploy of the smokescreen constitutes a similiar tactic.
  • Slippery slope: This fallacy occurs when an arguer wrongly assumes that to permit or forbid a course of action will inevitably lead to the occurrence of further related and undesireable events, without providing good reasons to suppose that the further events will indeed inevitably follow; and thus to follow the first is to tread on a slippery slop down which we will slide to the other events.
  • Straw man: This is the fallacy that occurs when an arguer ignores their opponent’s real position on an issue and sets up a weaker version of that position by misrepresentation, exaggeration, distortion or simplification. Tjis makes it easier to defeat; thereby creating the impression that the real argument has been refuted.
  • Begging the question: An argument commits the fallacy of begging the question when the truth of its conclusion is assumed by one or more of its premise, and the truth of the premises depend for their justification on the truth of the conclusion. Thus the premises ask the audience to grant the conclusion even before the argument is given.
  • False dilemma: This is the fallacy of limiting consideration of positions on an issue to fewer alternatives than there are that should be considered. Typically, the arguer pretends that there are two options, when in fact there are more.



About alwayscola18

*Always be misunderstood. *Majored in business administration, but contributing to satisfaction of primary living needs. *Prefer to speak out, and enjoy silence. *A Mandarin speaker, but not a grand-China nationalist; a Hokkien dialect speaker, but not an aggressive grass-root activist; an English reader, but not negative to my homeland; a baby Christian, but not a confrontationist to the God of earth. *With personalities of patience, cleverness, discernment, toleration, self-confidence, and friendliness.
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