Rhetorical Devices

Ad hominem arguments

Latin for “to the man”…

…instead of arguing the question,

you deflect attention to the opponent


you argue that 1+1=2

the other person responds “It’s 3, and anyway you flunked arithmetic in 3rd grade”

Is that argument strategy always illogical?

Always logical?

Sometimes logical?

Sometimes illogical?

Is that illegal?



Could something be ethical but sleazy….

…or unethical but not sleazy?

Red herring arguments

Term supposedly coined by William Cobbett in 1807…

…to describe when he stopped dogs from chasing a rabbit…

…with a kippered herring

Lots of kinds of red herring arguments


two wrongs make a right arguments

See list at:


Slippery slope arguments

Claim that one step leads to next steps ending in something bad

Can you think of any examples?

Can it be valid?

Can it be misused?

Logical fallacies arguments

General category of many illogical arguments

One is…

…correlation = cause and effect arguments

Roosters crow and the sun rises

Therefore sunrise makes roosters crow


Therefore crowing causes sunrise

Non sequitur arguments

“not in sequence”

The conclusion is claimed to, but does not, follow the premise


“We realize that it would be in the best interest of the community and our children to address the issue expeditiously. In order to make this happen, I respectfully request an eight-month payment delay calling for payment of the $10 million obligation on August 31, 2015.”
(Savannah City Manager Stephanie Cutter in a letter to the city’s superintendent of schools; reported in the Savannah Morning News, April 3, 2014) – quoted in http://grammar.about.com/od/mo/g/nonseqterm.htm

Can you think of, find, or invent an example?

These happen alot in daily life and political speech

Post hoc arguments

Find out what it is

Give an example

Ad hoc arguments

Find out what it is

Give an example