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Is it ok to win an argument by using rhetorical tricks
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Persuasion

The following are argument sketches subject to contextual counterarguments of three forms: no contender, false contender, defending the incumbent. Say which counter- argument applies to each case, and why (adapted from Purtill, 1971).

1. A student is given the privilege of making up an examination during a vacation period and is told to find his own proctor. He is told that a proctor may be a student because no faculty members are available. He turns in the examination. "Who was your proctor?" he is asked. "I proctored the exam myself," he answers.

2. A group of friends sits around a table discussing fidelity and infidelity in marriage. A woman says: "Not a single wife in this city is faithful to her husband." She explains that by a faithful wife she means a wife who thinks of her husband every single waking moment. Since no wife thinks of her husband that often, no wife is faithful.

3. God must exist for by God I mean the ground of being. The ground of being must exist if anything does. So God exists.

4. Every action is selfish because a selfish action is one from which a person derives some advantage. No one would do anything without getting something out of it.

5. I am a righteous because I am a Democrat, and by ‘righteous' I mean ‘Democratic.'

Analyze the following situations. Identify the likely presence of psychological defense (scapegoating, projection, introjection, denial, stereotyping).

6. Sylvia notices a slight lump on the back of her neck. She decides it's probably a cyst and forgets about it.

7. Asked how he felt about losing the hard-fought campaign, the candidate replied that he was now "in the full-time grandfather business."

8. Joe thought his girl Sally was the prettiest girl in the world until his friend Sam laughed at him.

9. Veronica takes more than an hour to put on her makeup before going to school. She complains to her mother about a classmate, Betty, who, she says, is always flirting.

10. Jim said he thought the U.S. should stay clear of the situation in the Middle East. "Those people have been killing each other for thousands of years!"

11. Clarence has worked hard to rid his community of smut-his Good Government Committee has banned Playboy and Penthouse from local stores. But he gets irritated when he watches the news. "I'm sick of the liberal media! Who are they to dictate to me their moral beliefs!"

12. Howard considers himself a liberal and supports free speech-crazy political views, pornography, even obscene political criticism. But he draws a line at the American Nazi party. "I don't have to listen to this garbage, and neither does anyone else."

For the following questions, write a brief answer summarizing your position.

13. What is the difference between psychological guilt and actual guilt?

14. If a democratic community achieves a consensus on a controversial issue, should the majority supersede minority views? Consider a problem case: the teaching of evolution.

15. Is "secular humanism" a religion?

Overview: How do you stand on the question about the use of tricks, message blockers and ‘priming' (or mood setting techniques) in argument? Is it OK to win an argument by using rhetorical tricks and lies? Or is it more important to reason fairly, whether you win the argument or not? Does it depend on the situation? Is Aristotle right that eristic argument (trying to win) and dialectic argument (trying to find the truth) are radically different kinds of pursuit?




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