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Encyclopedia > Straw man

A straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to the opponent. A straw-man argument can be a successful rhetorical technique (that is, it may succeed in persuading people) but it is in fact a misleading fallacy, because the opponent's actual argument has not been refuted. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Fallacy. ... Rhetoric (from Greek , rhêtôr, orator, teacher) is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of oral language and written language; however, this definition of rhetoric has been contested since rhetoric emerged as a field of study in Universities. ...


Its name is derived from the practice of using straw men in combat training. In such training, a scarecrow is made in the image of the enemy with the single intent of attacking it.[1] It is occasionally called a straw dog fallacy,[2] scarecrow argument, or wooden dummy argument. A literal straw man is a dummy in the shape of a human created by stuffing straw into clothes. ... Scarecrows in a rice paddy in Japan For other uses, see Scarecrow (disambiguation). ...

Contents

Setup of a straw man

One can set up a straw man in the following ways:

  1. Present a misrepresentation of the opponent's position, refute it, and pretend that the opponent's actual position has been refuted.
  2. Quote an opponent's words out of context -- i.e., choose quotations that are not representative of the opponent's actual intentions (see contextomy)
  3. Present someone who defends a position poorly as the defender, refute that person's arguments, and pretend that every upholder of that position, and thus the position itself, has been defeated.
  4. Invent a fictitious persona with actions or beliefs that are criticized, and pretend that the person represents a group of whom the speaker is critical.
  5. Oversimplify a person's argument into a simple analogy, which can then be attacked.

Some logic textbooks define the straw man fallacy only as a misrepresented argument. It is now common, however, to use the term to refer to all of these tactics. The straw-man technique is also used as a form of media manipulation. // Contextomy Contextomy refers to the selective excerpting of words from their original linguistic context in a way that distorts the source’s intended meaning, a practice commonly (and erroneously) referred to as the fallacy of quoting out of context. ... Media manipulation is an aspect of public relations in which partisans create an image or argument that favours their particular interests. ...


However, carefully presenting and refuting a weakened form of an opponent's argument is not always itself a fallacy. Instead, it restricts the scope of the opponent's argument, either to where the argument is no longer relevant or as a step of a proof by exhaustion. Proof by exhaustion, also known as the brute force method or case analysis, is a method of mathematical proof in which the statement to be proved is split into a finite number of cases, and each case is proved separately. ...


Examples

An example of a straw man fallacy:

  1. Person A: I don't think children should run into the busy streets.
    Person B: I think that it would be foolish to lock children up all day.

By insinuating that Person A's argument is far more draconian than it is, Person B has side-stepped the issue. Here the "straw man" that person B has set up is the premise that "The only way to stop children running into the busy streets is to keep them inside all day".


Another example of the fallacy is based around a common argument about the link between traffic congestion and the number and width of roads on which commuters drive. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

An example of the straw man fallacy in the form of an argument map. This fallacy appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio programme Counterpoint [1]
An example of the straw man fallacy in the form of an argument map. This fallacy appeared on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio programme Counterpoint [1]

In the example to the left, the strongest reason in favour of the lemma "If more roads were built, then that would encourage people to take more trips by car", is the premise "Building more roads will encourage people to use less public transport and drive more often when commuting from A to B". But instead of objecting to the strongest reason in favour, the objector sets up a straw man in the premise "Building more roads will encourage people to take more joy rides". This is a very weak reason that the objector easily demolishes (through use of misdirection) and by doing so attempts to wholly discredit the argument put forward. Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File linksMetadata No higher resolution available. ... An Argument map is a visual representation of the structure of an argument in informal logic. ... The Australian Broadcasting Corporation or ABC (formerly the Australian Broadcasting Commission) is Australias national non-profit public broadcaster. ... In informal logic and argument mapping, a lemma is simultaneously a contention for premises below it and a premise for a contention above it. ... In discourse, a premise (also premiss in British usage) is a claim which is part of a reason or objection. ... Misdirection is a form of deception, where one feints in a particular course, and then exploits the misled pursuers mistake to escape, or remain undetected. ...




References

  1. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved on 2006-10-09.
  2. ^ Informal Fallacies. Retrieved on 2006-10-09.

For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... October 9 is the 282nd day of the year (283rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... October 9 is the 282nd day of the year (283rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ...

See also

In common parlance, devils advocate has come to mean a person who takes a position for the sake of argument. ... // Contextomy Contextomy refers to the selective excerpting of words from their original linguistic context in a way that distorts the source’s intended meaning, a practice commonly (and erroneously) referred to as the fallacy of quoting out of context. ...

External links

  • Examples of False Positioning (Humbug! Online)
  • Nizkor: Straw man
  • Chick.com: "Big Daddy?"[2] (the antagonist in this article's argument is a -very- weak straw man)
Fallacies of Irrelevance
v  d  e
Absurdity | Argument from ignorance | Argument from silence | Bandwagon fallacy
Bulverism | Irrelevant conclusion | Middle ground | Missing argument
Proof by assertion | Straw man | Style over substance | Two wrongs make a right
Appeal to consequences:
Appeal to force | Wishful thinking
Appeal to emotion:
Fear | Flattery | Nature | Pity | Repugnance | Ridicule | Spite
Genetic fallacy:
Personal attack (Appeal to motive | Guilt by association | Poisoning the well | You too)
Appeal to authority (Novelty | Poverty | Tradition | Wealth) | Chronological snobbery | Etymology
Other types of fallacy

  Results from FactBites:
 
Straw man - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (470 words)
The straw man fallacy is a rhetorical technique (also classified as a logical fallacy) based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position; deriving from the use of straw men in combat training.
To "set up a straw man" or "set up a straw-man argument" is to create a position that is easy to refute, then attribute that position to your opponent.
The name 'straw man' comes from a physical analogy which highlights the fallacious nature of the a straw man argument.
Logical Fallacy: Straw Man (793 words)
"Straw man" is one of the best-named fallacies, because it is memorable and vividly illustrates the nature of the fallacy.
The Straw Man is a type of Red Herring because the arguer is attempting to refute his opponent's position, and in the context is required to do so, but instead attacks a position—the "straw man"—not held by his opponent.
Such straw men are often part of the process of "demonization", and we might well call the subfallacy of the straw man which attacks an extreme position instead of the more moderate position held by the opponent, the "Straw Demon".
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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