What makes a straw man acceptable? Three experiments assessing linguistic factors

Schumann, Jennifer; Zufferey, Sandrine; Oswald, Steve (2019). What makes a straw man acceptable? Three experiments assessing linguistic factors. Journal of pragmatics, 141, pp. 1-15. Elsevier 10.1016/j.pragma.2018.12.009

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A straw man is a form of fallacious argument that involves the distortion of an opponent’s view in order to make it more extreme and therefore less acceptable, thus easier to attack. In three experiments, we assess linguistic factors that may influence the acceptability of straw men for addressees. In Experiment 1, we demonstrate that a straw man is more acceptable when the speaker’s argument is attacked rather than his standpoint. In Experiment 2, we show that a straw man is more acceptable when it contains two arguments that are simply juxtaposed rather than linked by a causal connective indicating attributed content (i.e. the French puisque). In Experiment 3, we find that a straw man is more acceptable when it echoes the speaker’s explicit rather than implicit meaning. Taken together, these experiments strongly indicate that the formulation of a straw man has an impact on its perceived acceptability. Our results thus open a new avenue of inquiry for studies assessing the role of linguistic factors on the acceptability of fallacies.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of French Language and Literature > Linguistic Studies
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of French Language and Literature

UniBE Contributor:

Schumann, Jennifer and Zufferey, Sandrine

Subjects:

400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 440 French & related languages

ISSN:

0378-2166

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Jennifer Schumann

Date Deposited:

04 Apr 2019 16:10

Last Modified:

04 Apr 2019 16:10

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.pragma.2018.12.009

Uncontrolled Keywords:

argumentation; fallacies; straw man; discourse connectives; French; experimental studies

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.123797

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/123797

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