Fooling the Victim: Of Straw Men and Those Who Fall for Them

Philosophy and Rhetoric 54 (2):109-127 (2021)
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ABSTRACT This paper contributes to the debate about the strawman fallacy. It is the received view that strawmen are employed to fool not the arguer whose argument they distort, but instead a third party, an audience. I argue that strawmen that fool their victims exist and are an important variation of the strawman fallacy because of their special perniciousness. I show that those who are subject to hermeneutical lacunae or who have since forgotten parts of justifications they have provided earlier are especially vulnerable to falling for strawmen aimed at their own positions or arguments. Adversarial argumentation provides especially fertile ground for strawmen that fool their own victims, but cooperative argumentation is no fail-safe protection from them either.



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Katharina Stevens
University of Lethbridge

Citations of this work

Bothsiderism.Scott F. Aikin & John P. Casey - 2022 - Argumentation 36 (2):249-268.
Farewell to Fallacies.Eugen Popa - 2021 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 54 (4):397-420.

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References found in this work

Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
Turning up the lights on gaslighting.Kate Abramson - 2014 - Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1):1-30.
Rational Persuasion as Paternalism.George Tsai - 2014 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 42 (1):78-112.
Adversariality and Argumentation.John Casey - 2020 - Informal Logic 40 (1):77-108.

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