Explore BrainMass

Explore BrainMass

    References for, the straw man fallacy of argumentation

    This content was COPIED from BrainMass.com - View the original, and get the already-completed solution here!

    I need assistance
    I need help with 4-5 pages on the use of The use of "Straw Man" arguments in televised political debates. I would like to use 7 peer reviewed references and apa format .using a case study on the using persuasion. It should include the following
    introduction, an overview of the case, a discussion, a conclusion.
    7 peer reviewed references and apa format.

    © BrainMass Inc. brainmass.com October 10, 2019, 8:20 am ad1c9bdddf

    Solution Preview


    The use of debating fallacies is an easy way to win an argument, but it is not a fair one. In order for those who hear the debate to really understand the ideas involved, there should be a degree of fairness in their presentation. The straw man fallacy is a particularly style of debate, in which the speaker tries to defeat the opponent's argument by rewording it in the worst possible way, after which the speaker condemns that new version. The "straw man" is the new version of the opposing argument, called so because straw men are so easy to tear down than the sturdier original argument.

    An example given by English professor E.K. Labiak presents a debater who wants to establish that more money should be spent on education by the government. The opposing debater then creates the straw man that spending more money on education will lead to making more cuts in the budget, which will certainly mean losing important benefits. In this way, the opposer will attribute negative results to that action that may not necessarily take place, thereby making it undesirable.
    (E.K. Labiak, English Answers)

    Overview of the case

    The straw man fallacy is one of several popular fallacies used by debaters, particularly political debaters. E. Magill lists 10 of the most well known, including ad hominem, when the opposer attacks the person instead of the argument presented in the debate. Magill pointed to an example presented by President Bush right after he took office in 2001. When he pushed for a new testing system for schools, he then argued that everybody opposed to that system was disinterested in holding schools accountable for their failures. Of course, this simply wasn't true, as there were plenty of alternatives offered by his political opponents. (E.Magill, 2010, Top Ten Fallacies)

    Douglas Walton presents another way of defining the straw man fallacy: "... when you misrepresent your opponent's position, attribute to that person a point of view with a set-up implausibility that you can easily demolish, then proceed to argue against the set-up version as though it were your opponent's." (D Walton, 1996, p 1160)

    Sometimes using a straw man argument does not always mean that the debater is redesigning the argument only to win it. C.J. Gill refers to proponents of disabled people who, because they are not disabled, do not always understand the issues that are important to them, because they do not have the same experiences as they do. (C.J. Gill, 2010, p 32)

    A case study on using persuasion

    A debate between Focus on the Family founder James Dobson and proponents of politicians and other authorities who want to give school teens condoms is a case study in the use of the the straw man fallacy. The structure of a fair debate is as follows:

    The basic standpoint presented by a writer/speaker.
    The evidence which supports the claim.
    The justification for connecting particular data to a particular claim. The warrant also makes
    clear the assumptions underlying the argument.

    Additional information required if the warrant is not clearly supported.

    Conditions or standpoints that point out flaws in the claim or alternative positions.

    Terminology that limits a standpoint. Examples include applying the following terms to any
    part of an argument: sometimes, seems, occasionally,none, always, never, etc.
    (R. Jones, 2010, p 169)

    The website The Fallacy Files copied the argument that was presented by Dobson in one of his fundraising letters:

    Some of you may have seen the 90-minute ABC network television show...entitled "Growing Up in the Age of AIDS".... I was one of nine guests on that live program.... ...[A] single 45-second sound bite cost me a long journey and two hectic days in New York City.

    Why...did I travel to The Big Apple for such an insignificant role? ...I felt a responsibility to express the abstinence position on national television.... How sad that adolescents hear only the dangerous "safe sex" message from adults who should know better.

    What follows, then, is what I would have said on television....

    Why, apart from moral considerations, do you think teenagers should be taught to abstain from sex until marriage?

    ...[N]ot one of 800 sexologists at a recent conference raised a hand when asked if they would trust a thin rubber sheath to protect them during intercourse with a known HIV infected person. ... And yet they're perfectly willing to tell our kids that "safe sex" is within reach and that they can sleep around with impunity.
    (G.N. Curtis, 2013, The Fallacy Files)

    A discussion
    //(I am leaving this one for you. The outline of the structure of fair debates listed above could be discussed, and how Dobson did not follow them. The reference source below gives some great ideas about it)

    A conclusion

    In order to promote clear thinking and argumentation, both debaters must be committed to maintaining fairness and clarity when debating. Only in this way will not only each participant be able to present their viewpoint in the most persuasive way, but the audience will also be able to understand both viewpoints, and, some might even change their own opinions.

    Debates should not be emotional verbal fights; they should involve critical thinking, logic, and mutual respect. It should not be a platform for bullying or personal insults. It should be fair and not do what the straw man does, which is turn the opposer's argument into one that does not represent what the opposer wants to favor. A position should be based on facts and documentation from reliable sources. All related argumentation should be in full agreement with the main argument. Illogical claims should not be a part of any argument. If a point is made by one party, the other party should be mature enough to concede it. And academic debates should not be obscured by confusing language that only sounds intellectual.

    In her paper entitled "Finding the Good Argument OR Why Bother With Logic?", the straw man fallacy is not only exposed as a bad way to argue a position, but she also described clear alternative debating rules.

    1. The Freedom Rule
    "Parties must not prevent each other from putting forward standpoints
    or casting doubt on standpoints" (110).

    2. The Burden-of-Proof Rule
    "A party who puts forward a standpoint is obliged to defend it if asked
    to do so" (113).

    3. The Standpoint Rule
    "A party's attack on a standpoint must relate to the standpoint that has
    indeed been advanced by the other party" (116).Your standpoint is simply your claim,
    your basic argument in a nutshell.

    4. The Relevance Rule
    "A party may defend his or her standpoint only by advancing argumentation
    related to that standpoint" (119).Similar to #3, this rule assures that the evidence you use must actually
    relate to your standpoint. Let's stick with same argument.

    5. The Unexpressed Premise Rule
    "A party may not falsely present something as a premise that has been
    left unexpressed by the other party or deny a premise that he or she has
    left implicit" (121).This one sounds a bit complex, though it happens nearly every day.
    If you have been talking to another person and feel the need to say,
    "That's NOT what I meant," then you have experienced a violation of
    the unexpressed premise rule.

    6. The Starting Point Rule
    "No party may falsely present a premise as an accepted starting point,
    or deny a premise representing an accepted starting point" (128).
    Part of quality argumentation is to agree on the opening standpoint.

    7. The Argument Scheme Rule
    "A standpoint may not be regarded as conclusively defended if the defense
    does not take place by means of an appropriate argument scheme
    that is correctly applied" (130).This rule is about argument strategy

    8. The Validity Rule
    "The reasoning in the argumentation must ...

    Solution Summary

    This is a discussion of, and references for, the straw man fallacy of argumentation, and includes several examples of this fallacy in political debates. It also includes an overview of other fallacies, and ideas about how to conscientiously avoid them.