The types of arguments

The argument of authority: we refer to a recognized political, moral, scientific authority and expert. For example: Smoking is dangerous for health, this is shown by the report on the health of written by professors … The analogy which consists in comparing two facts, two situations to deduce an explanatory value, to give as an example. “The use of tobacco is close to that of drugs or alcohol: it creates a physical and psychological dependence which the patient will have a hard time getting rid of”.

The cause and effect relationships. This phenomenon leads to another phenomenon according to the postulate of determinism. “Smoking causes gastric disturbances, gives bad breath and disturbs the sense of smell as taste”. The advantages or disadvantages. Search effects on different planes. “Quitting smoking increases life expectancy, reduces health costs …”

Use of scientific, historical, numerical data. In principle they are irrefutable. “Smoking is the number one cause of lung and throat cancers.” By analysis and elimination of other solutions. Valid for long argumentation or response to foreseeable objections. “Using cigarettes without tobacco does not eliminate the risks represented by tars, the toxicity of products resulting from combustion …” By generalization. From one or two examples, we generalize. “Prevention programs in Germany and school education sessions in Luxembourg have shown interest …”

Argument of the “bearings”

The efforts, the sacrifices reach a plateau, with the first positive results, and so on until the final result. “The increase in tobacco taxes, the ban on smoking in public places have once again made mention of smoking and made it possible for a new public to become aware of its misdeeds, which has led to a reduction in consumption. “… The agreement words / acts: To make sympathetic, mark loyalty. “The Minister of Health has decided to stop smoking at the launch of the prevention campaign, so far his determination has not faltered” …

The alternative: white or black, purse or life, suitcase or coffin. “Women must choose: either stopping smoking or increased risk of cancer, accelerated tissue aging, dull skin, a marked weakening of their power of seduction” … Call for higher values. Importance of the chosen point of view. “Tobacco use is not only dangerous for the consumer, but for all those who are passively intoxicated with his surroundings, so it is not only a question of good manners, but even more of good citizenship and public health, to refrain from smoking in a public place “.

Take to witness

Search for the recipient’s agreement. “Do you see other ways that the ban on advertising for cigarette brands?” Argument ad hominem: The argument ad hominem or argumentum ad hominem is a strategy of opposing an opponent’s own words or actions. It is a question of discrediting the person rather than the position that they defend. The ideal is to show the contradiction between the words and the actions. It is the highlighting of “Do what I say and not what I do”. Typically an ad hominem argument is constructed according to the following scheme:

So-and-so defends such position. But so-and-so is not credible (for reasons related to his words, to his actions) when he asserts this position. So this position is wrong.

Politicians abuse this type of argument, and thus help to debase the debate by confusing ideas and people. It is indeed vicious to create an amalgam between the veracity of a position and the integrity of a person. In a lawsuit, on the other hand, the revelation of the contradictions behind which an accused takes refuge to deny his responsibility or assert his right, may be useful in discerning the truth. The argument ad hominem then deals with a clarification of the motives and not with the validity of the substance of the alleged thing. Likewise any argument ad hominem is not always a personal attack, when it confines itself to referring to the particular situation of a person (legal rights, moral authority …).

Irony is an argumentation by the absurd, which tries to seduce the reader with an appeal to his intelligence. Indeed the reader must understand that he is called to distance himself from the raw formulation and that he must reverse the claims of the author. It is a subtle game, fascinating, but which can produce the opposite effect to that which is expected if the reader accepts everything in the first degree. Irony is an essential weapon of argumentative strategy because it makes the receiver complicit, that it forces him to go halfway in the adhesion to the thesis. The opinion is hidden indeed behind a strictly opposite formulation; so the reader must be attentive and react to the clues that indicate to him:

an absurd logic: it consists in linking a given cause and an unrelated consequence with it. The marked absurdity of this relationship must offend the reader. For example, Montesquieu, denouncing primary racism expressed himself as follows: “[The negroes] have their noses so crushed that it is almost impossible to pity them”. the caricature pushed to cynicism: the reader is warned by the enormity of the subject or its frankly ignoble character. Montesquieu: “The sugar would be too expensive if we did not work the plant that produces it by slaves.”

antiphrase: this is the essential process. It is a matter of judging a phenomenon contrary to what one would expect. Before the scribbles of an apprentice writer, the critic will praise the “admirable character” of the production. As the compliment is public, forced by exaggeration and tone, it leaves no doubt about the intentions of the one who pronounces it to the point that the recipient is often marked for life.

Rhetoric is a real “logic of feelings”. His images mark, seduce, intrude into the recipient’s unconscious. “Smoking is burning a little more each day”. Slogans, catchy titles, word games (allusions, connotations, paronomasia …) are striking examples.