The Linguistic Formulation of Fallacies Matters: The Case of Causal Connectives

Argumentation 35 (3):361-388 (2020)
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While the role of discourse connectives has long been acknowledged in argumentative frameworks, these approaches often take a coarse-grained approach to connectives, treating them as a unified group having similar effects on argumentation. Based on an empirical study of the straw man fallacy, we argue that a more fine-grained approach is needed to explain the role of each connective and illustrate their specificities. We first present an original corpus study detailing the main features of four causal connectives in French that speakers routinely use to attribute meaning to another speaker, which is a key element of straw man fallacies. We then assess the influence of each of these connectives in a series of controlled experiments. Our results indicate each connective has different effects for the persuasiveness of straw man fallacies, and that these effects can be explained by differences in their semantic profile, as evidenced in our corpus study. Taken together, our results demonstrate that connectives are important for argumentation but should be analyzed individually, and that the study of fallacies should include a fine-grained analysis of the linguistic elements typically used in their formulation.



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References found in this work

Relevance.D. Sperber & Deirdre Wilson - 1986 - Communication and Cognition: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly Journal 2.
Fallacies.C. L. Hamblin - 1970 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 160:492-492.
A Pragmatic Theory of Fallacy.Douglas Walton - 2003 - University Alabama Press.
Fallacies and Argument Appraisal.Christopher W. Tindale - 2007 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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