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Critical Thinking
Lecture 4
By David Kelsey
Linguistic devices which are used to
Rhetorical devices are called
Positive and negative slants
Grandmother example
Rhetorical force and Logical force
• The Logical Force of a phrase or sentence is the power of that
phrase or sentence to __________________
• The rhetorical force of a phrase or sentence is the power of
that phrase or sentence to __________________
• Al Gore example
Rhetorical comparisons and definitions
A rhetorical comparison is a
comparison used to express or
influence attitudes.
A Rhetorical definition:
smuggles prejudice of one sort
or another into the meaning of a
– Short example
– Abortion example
Rhetorical Explanations
A Rhetorical Explanation smuggles in prejudice of one sort or another with the
aim of influencing attitudes or behavior.
A Euphemism is a neutral or positive expression as opposed to one
that carries negative associations.
• Used cars
• Assassination attempts
• Freedom fighters
• Passing away
A Dysphemism:
– a negative expression as opposed to one that carries positive or neutral
associations with it.
– Deception:
• Examples:
– The freedom fighter again
A stereotype is a thought or image about a group of people based on little or no
Stereotypes #2
Most stereotypes denigrate a group of individuals, for example:
– Examples:
Favorable impressions:
– Examples:
Innuendo: uttering a sentence or phrase with the intention of communicating
what is implied by what one utters.
Innuendo #2
– insinuating something negative about something or someone without
actually saying it.
– WC Fields example
Loaded Questions
A loaded question is a question that implies an unjustified claim.
• Examples:
– “Have you stopped beating her?”
– Police officer
A weasler is a word or phrase, which, when inserted into a claim, helps protect
it from criticism by watering it down or by weakening it.
A way out
Weasling words include:
Weaslers #2
An example of a Weasler: “Three out of four dentists surveyed recommend
sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum”.
– This claim contains two Weasling expressions.
• 1.
• 2.
Downplayers are words or
phrases used to make someone
or something look less
important or significant.
Horse Laugh
A Horse laugh (i.e. ridicule) is a word or phrase used to get a laugh at the
expense of someone or something.
– A horse laugh is no objection:
– Examples:
• Unrelated jokes
• Laughing at someone or something
• Making fun
Hyperbole is extravagant
• Some examples:
– Hang nail
– …
Proof surrogates
A proof surrogate:
– a phrase or expression used to suggest that there is evidence or authority
for a claim without actually citing the evidence or authority.