One of the most helpful skills a student of rhetoric learns is spotting the use of faulty rhetoric by others. This includes logical fallacies and rhetorical “fouls.” By using good rhetoric and influencing others to use good rhetoric, many of our country’s issues would be more easily solved, especially in politics. Political debates would be less heated and more productive, and voters would be able to vote based on policy and not the many other things they use.
What is a logical fallacy? Logical fallacies are comprised of either bad proof, the wrong number of choices, or a disconnect between proof and conclusion (Heinrichs 146). There are countless examples of this faulty use of rhetoric, but they all prevent the ability for fair argument. The users of these fallacies use poor logic to trick their audience into agreeance or submission. While these techniques are incorrect logically, they’re fair in the game of rhetoric, making it our responsibility to spot them and fail to fall victim to them.
In addition to fallacies, the rhetorician can make other failed uses of logic. These are what Jay Heinrichs calls rhetorical fouls. These fouls make deliberative argument impossible (Heinrichs 179). Rhetorical fouls include scenarios such as forcing someone to accept an argument due to a threat. The recipient of that argument is put into a state where they cannot consent to agree! Like logical fallacies, it is important to recognize these fouls to ensure that you do not make them but also to stop yourself from arguing with those who do make them.
In the end, using proper and fair logic in our practice of rhetoric will lead to a happier and empowered society. Voters and audiences will be able to educate and fair decisions, and debates can end (more) civilly. By learning about logic and calling out improper use of it in rhetoric, one can level the playing field.