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4-1. Identifying Rhetorical Devices. The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to identify examples of nonargumentative persuasion. . Go To Next Slide. 4-2.

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identifying rhetorical devices


Identifying Rhetorical Devices

The aim of this tutorial is to help you learn to identify examples of nonargumentative persuasion.

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The tests for assessing informative claims covered in chapter three assume that the claims come in neutral form to our accepting or rejecting minds.

However, even lone sentences have ways of smuggling in strategies to affect our reception of them.

Rhetorical devices are methods of including emotionally loaded content in a claim as an attempt to persuade us in some way.

It is important to recognize these uses of nonargumentative persuasion so a fair assessment of the claim can be made.

In the following examples, you should note

each use of nonargumentative persuasion

and decide what effect is being targeted by its use.

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Economists say this layoff is Cleveland’s final readjustment to a service economy.

This is a euphemism; a nice way of saying people were fired.

Read the claim carefully.

Try to pick out any subtle, or not so subtle, attempts to persuade you of something. Remember that there are no arguments here, this is merely a claim.

There is another rhetorical device at work here. This claim suggests that there will be no more layoffs, that this is the ‘final’ event in what we assume has been a series of such moves. This is a proof surrogate; an attempt to suggest evidence without offering it.

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Though some professors’ concerns might indeed be far removed from the realities of the world, not all are. This is a stereotype.

Letter to the editor: “We can thank ivory-tower

professors like Mr. Fosl for all the head-in-the-clouds

ideas our society has to content with.”

Here we see a dysphemism. “Head-in-the-clouds” has an obviously negative tone. Again, if the ideas are worthless or bad, then arguments are needed to support this claim. These are slanters because they are used in place of arguments.

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Who was that young woman with the

Senator last night? His niece?

There is something going on here, what is it?

Though there is no argument here, the author is trying to persuade you of something.

It is probably obvious that this is an example of innuendo. Though it does not say the Senator was doing something wrong, it certainly suggests that something was going on. This counts as a rhetorical device therefore, since it tries to persuade you to believe something without giving you arguments for it.

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Are you here to beg for another favor?

Look carefully here for rhetorical devices.

Remember that nonargumentative persuasion is an attempt to include information or claims without arguing for them properly.

By smuggling these claims in under the radar, the author is most likely trying to avoid having the claims subjected to the critical thinking that people apply to arguments.

This is a loaded question.

Note that this question assumes that the person is begging.

No matter what answer the person gives,

“yes” or “no,” she will have admitted to being a beggar.

It is crucial that you recognize such ploys.

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Open this envelope and you’ll get

a check for three million dollars,

if your name appears on our list of winners.

To decide if there is a slanter here, think about what the authors of this sentence want you to believe. What is their goal?

This is best described as a weasler.

Though the fact that your name must be on a list in order to win the money is very important, it is stuck at the end of the sentence. They want you to put your mental emphasis on the first half of the sentence and, hopefully, not even read the last part.

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Is this going to be another bright suggestion like your proposal that we take scuba lessons?

There are two slanters at work here, can you identify them?

Again, think about what is actually said, and what the authors want you to believe. What are they trying to argue for without actually arguing?

This is a loaded question.

The person answering will automatically admit that their proposal to take scuba was “bright” (note the sarcasm here).

This is also a persuasive definition,

comparing the current suggestion with an old one.

From the sarcasm, we know that wasn’t a great idea.

This is the end of this tutorial.