Journal article

The Linguistic Formulation of Fallacies Matters : The Case of Causal Connectives

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  • Argumentation. - 2020, vol. 35, no. 3, p. 361-388
English While the role of discourse connectives has long been acknowledged in argumentative frameworks, these approaches often take a coarse-grained approach to connectives, treating them as a unified group having similar effects on argumentation. Based on an empirical study of the straw man fallacy, we argue that a more finegrained approach is needed to explain the role of each connective and illustrate their specificities. We first present an original corpus study detailing the main features of four causal connectives in French that speakers routinely use to attribute meaning to another speaker (puisque, étant donné que, vu que and comme), which is a key element of straw man fallacies. We then assess the influence of each of these connectives in a series of controlled experiments. Our results indicate each connective has different effects for the persuasiveness of straw man fallacies, and that these effects can be explained by differences in their semantic profile, as evidenced in our corpus study. Taken together, our results demonstrate that connectives are important for argumentation but should be analyzed individually, and that the study of fallacies should include a fine-grained analysis of the linguistic elements typically used in their formulation.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département d'anglais
  • English
Language, linguistics
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