Index of Recurrent Themes

The purpose of this post is to provide an index of recurrent themes appearing in Hinter-logics. Some will be familiar topics for those interested in logic an critical thinking. Others are more familiar to literary analysis and or the ethnography of speech, being part of an effort to get a handle on the relationship between reasoning and other aspects of communication and social interaction. As a general rule, I will use the recurrent themes present in an argument as the tags for that argument. The topics are presented below along with the examples in which they occur.

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Accusatory Question: This is a question asked in order to conjure suspicion about a person, institution, idea, etc. Because it is asked in the form of a question, the speaker need not assert the accuracy of the question. They may be content to let those they accuse deal with the credibility problems raised by the question. Either way, phrasing the accusation as a question effectively helps the one asking it dodge any responsibilities to clarify their own position.

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Ad Baculum (Appeal to Force): A fallacy that uses a threat as a reason for someone to change their mind.

Examples: Every Man Should Know.

Ad Hominem: This occurs when commentary about a person is substituted for an argument about the truth of something they have said.

Examples: David Silverman on Atheist Bilboards,

Ambiguity: A general problem in which the intent of an argument or a statement is unclear. This may play a role in fallacious argumentation. It also poses a problem for interpretation of an argument, because a reader may face alternative interpretations of a single argument. This can be dealt with in ongoing dialogue by asking questions. Set texts may require a decision, which is where the principle of clarity comes into play.

Examples: Lauren Boeberts a Feinstein.

Analogy: For purposes of our interest here, an analogy is an argument deriving a conclusion from a comparison between two different (though similar) things. Usually, the point of an argument from analogy is to suggest that because thing 1 and thing 2 are similar in at least one established respect, they may also be similar in respect of the conclusion as well.

Examples: A Hopi Comments on American Music, Wisdom of the Oompa Loompas, Mike Lee’s Mulligan.

Argument from Incredulity: This consists of rejecting a claim on the basis of nothing other than a refusal to consider the possibility that it might be true or that evidence offered in support of it has any merit. In effect, no counter-argument is offered. Neither is any effort to weigh the evidence considered. The source of the argument from incredulity just refuses to take the case seriously.

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Argument Recognition: This refers to the practice of recognizing when an argument has been offered (i.e. when reasons have been offered for believing a conclusion).

Examples: Edna Maclean On Iñupiaq Counting, Rocky Mountain Way, William L. Iġġiaġruk Hensley’s Name.

Begging the Question (Circular Argument): An argument in which the conclusion provides a central assumption in its own support.

Examples: The King’s Pushback.

Bulverism: A logical fallacy in which someone is assumed to be in error and an explanation for how they came to make their mistake is offered in lieu of an argument demonstrating that they are in fact in error.

Burden of Proof: This is a convention for assigning the default value of judgement in the event that the answer to any given question cannot be answered with a meaningful degree of confidence. Essentially, those taking one side of a given debate are expected to prove their own point while the author side is given the option to focus entirely on poking holes in the arguments of the former. When this happens, the party expected to prove their own point is said to have the burden of proof.

Note that while people often speak of a burden of proof as a purely logical consideration, it is always also a social convention. Significantly, that convention often goes hand in hand with the privileges granted to those with the burden (i.e. the right to take first pass at defining key terms, etc.).

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Causation: This topic poses a problem insofar as we do not want to confuse the assertion of a cause and effect relationship with reasoning in the form of an argument. The word “because” can appear both as an inference indicator urging us to draw a conclusion from an assumption and an element in a causal relationship. Determining which is which can be a problem. That said, determining the exact nature of a causal relationship poses a number of problems of its own. So, causation is always of interest in studies of logical an argumentation.

Examples: Caitlyn Jenner’s Political Priorities, The King’s Pushback, Wisdom of the Oompa Loompas.

Complex Question: This fallacy occurs when someone presupposes a specific answer to one question in the phrasing of another so as to ensure that anyone answering the second effectively grants the truth of an unstated assumption.

Counterpoints: This term could mean a few different things, but I am using it here to explicit acknowledgement of a point against the conclusion of an author’s argument.

Examples: Caitlyn Jenner’s Political Priorities.

Convergent Argument: This is an argument in which 2 or more separate reasons are used to support the truth of a conclusion independent of one another. This is to be distinguished from a Linked Argument in which 2 ore more separate premises are combined to make a single argument in support of a conclusion.

Examples: Sharice Davids Calls for the 25th.

Dialectics: Reasoning is often a product of an exchange between two or more people . Of course we can sometimes use missing assumptions and conclusions, etc. to squeeze the points made by one party into the argument of another, but sometimes it’s best to recognize that key inferences are taking place in the exchanges between people rather than a single utterance or text. When that happens, we put the example here.

Examples: Band of Brothers – Where Are We? How Many Lumps? Not Be On a Boat.

Double Negation: This is the principle that an affirmative statement is equivalent to the negation of its negation (A = Not not-A). Note that this equivalence holds true for truth-functional semantics, it may not be true in pragmatics, making double-negation a common source of rhetorical manipulation.

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter, Mike Lee’s Mulligan.

Equivocation: A logical fallacy in which the meaning of a word or phrase is changed over the course of an argument without acknowledging the change. Note that some approaches would distinguish equivocation from a range of similar fallacies rooted in ambiguity at different levels of communication. My tendency is to use the same label for any instances in which meaning is shifted over the course of reasoning.

Examples: How Many Lumps? Not Be On a Boat.

Explanation: This is a form of reasoning which is easily confused for argumentation, both because people often argue about explanations and because explanations often make use of vocabulary that mirrors that of an argument. So, for instance the word ‘because’ could be either an inference indicator in an argument or part of a causal explanation, and the can be obscured by explicit efforts to argue about the best explanation for a given topic. The distinction matters because the word ‘because’ is not used to signal that the statement following proves anything in an explanation. Instead, it is asserting that the best explanation for the statement before is whatever follows the word ‘because’.

Examples: A Hopi Comments on American Music, Edna Maclean On Iñupiaq Counting, William L. Iġġiaġruk Hensley’s Name.

False Alternatives: This is a classic fallacy. It consists of assuming only two alternatives exist when others may be equally plausible. It may also occur when someone assumes that two alternatives are mutually exclusive when in fact they are not.

Examples: A Meme of RaceBand of Brothers – Where Are We?, Caitlyn Jenner’s Political Priorities, Pinterest Politics, Mike Lee’s Mulligan.

False Equivalence: A fallacy in which two or more things are treated as equivalent in value when closer scrutiny would clearly demonstrate that they are not.

Examples: Hatch Schmatch, Lauren Boeberts a Feinstein

Figurative Speech: It’s important to recognize when the language of an argument cannot be taken literally without substantially undermining the truth of key claims. While we may admire the creativeness of a good metaphor or the skill an author uses in constructing a nice simile, for purposes of logic, we will normally want to ask what was literally meant in such cases and rewrite the sentences accordingly.

…and yes, we’re fun at parties.

Examples: First Woman’s Argument, Russell Means – Mother Earth Will Retaliate.

Genetic Fallacy: Arguments fitting into this category construe the origins of an idea as grounds for rejecting it.

Examples: Mini-Hitchens History of Religion.

Gish Gallop: This is an argument so full of errors that it is hard to know where to start, or which errors are the real root of the problem. It is at least possible that a Gish Gallop could be in the eye of the beholder, insofar as people whose views are radically different from each other may perceive the other as making multiple mistakes while speaking, but at least some versions of this really do consist of distortions by the author of an argument. Either way, formulating a response in the face of multiple points of disagreement can be intimidating.

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Hedges: These are words which effectively qualify a claim or an inference in some sense. Note that hedges can modify the content of claims within an argument (E.g. Whatshisname committed a little bit of a crime.) but they can also indicate something about the confidence of the speakers (e.g. “It might be that So&So committed a crime.) In some cases it may be clear which meaning an author intends, but in many others this will be ambiguous. So, it is sometimes difficult to assess whether to think of a hedge as mere affect display, unrelated to the actual argument, or as something that tells us specifically how to read portions of an argument. In such cases, contextual clues and the principle of charity may be used to help sort out the best approach to the issue.

Examples: The King’s Pushback, Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Incompleteness of Evaluation: In theory, one could (and perhaps should) provide a complete evaluation of all the elements of an argument, but in practice this almost never happens. People select small sub-arguments from a larger text in order to focus on questions most salient to their own concerns, and they may skip the evaluation of entire sections of an argument to focus on others. When there is something about the argument itself that seems to invite selective evaluation, it goes here.

Examples: First Woman’s Argument.

Indeterminacy of Reasoning: One of the difficulties of looking at argumentation in real life is that it’s not always clear what is being offered as a reason for what or what somebody’s final conclusion really happens to be. Textbook examples tend to be carefully chosen to avoid this problem, but here we find it interesting. Such examples go here.

Examples: First Woman’s Argument.

Indirection: Sometimes people will frame a message as though it is intended for one audience when it is clearly intended for another. This is indirection, and it happens in arguments too.

Examples: Phil Robertson’s Argument from Rape.

Inference Indicators: These are words which often indicate that a conclusion (e.g. ‘thus’, ‘therefore’, ‘hence’, etc.) or a reason (‘because’, ‘for’, ‘whereas’, etc.) is about to follow.

Rocky Mountain Way, William L. Iġġiaġruk Hensley’s Name

Innuendo: This occurs when someone hints at or alludes to an a thought without stating it outright. It comes up in logic in that some statements may remain unstated and certain fallacies such as equivocation or complex question may facilitate the use of innuendo as a means of supporting a conclusion.

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Interactional Eclipse: Arguments tell about something, and we use logical analysis to try and understand how they do so. But of course arguments are also made in course of social interaction, and sometimes that interaction overshadows the reasoning in important ways. When an argument contains some feature likely to make this happen, it will appear on this list.

Examples: Lauren Boeberts a Feinstein, Michael Moore’s Thoughts on Snipers, Phil Robertson’s Argument from Rape, Every man Should Know, Mike Lee’s Mulligan.

Linked Argument: This is an argument in which 2 or more separate premises are combined to make a single argument in support of a conclusion. This is distinguished from a convergent argument in which 2 or more separate reasons are used to support the truth of a conclusion independent of one another.

Examples: Sharice Davids Calls for the 25th.

Lost in Translation: This refers to shifts in meaning from one language or genre to another. Here, we are particularly interested in cases herein the usual methods of analyzing an argument to assess degrees of logical support may distort the intentions of its original author.

Examples: Caitlyn Jenner’s Political Priorities.

Micro-Reasoning: Sometimes an argument is so tiny that it’s tempting to just ignore it. The problem of course is that an awful lot of public discourse hinges on just such sound bites. When the shear brevity of an argument poses problems for analysis, I’ll be putting it here.

Examples: A Meme of Race, David Silverman on Atheist Bilboards, Hatch Schmatch, Mini-Hitchens History of Religion, Michael Moore’s Thoughts on Snipers, Pinterest Politics.

Misplaced Literalism: This could probably be regarded as a variety of equivocation or even a straw man. It consists of treatment figurative speech as though it were intended literally. This is often done in response to someone using figurative speech, thus changing the meaning of the argument for purposes of criticism (hence the straw man implications).

Examples: A Comment on Project Chariot, Russell Means – Mother Earth Will Retaliate.

Missing Assertions: Sometimes people don’t quite spell out an important part of their reasoning. When that happens, the example goes here.

Examples: A Comment on Project Chariot,  A Meme of Race, Band of Brothers – Where Are We?, Caitlyn Jenner’s Political Priorities, David Silverman on Atheist Bilboards, Edna Maclean On Iñupiaq Counting, Elizabeth Peratrovich Takes on the Douglas Inn, How Many Lumps? Lauren Boeberts a Feinstein, Michael Moore’s Thoughts on Snipers, Mini-Hitchens History Religion, Note Be on a Boat, Sharice Davids Calls for the 25th, Wisdom of the Oompa Loompas, Pinterest Politics.

Modus Tollens: A formal argument taking the form; “If P, then Q. P, thereforem Q.”

Examples: A Meme of Race.

Moral Reasoning: Reasoning that involves questions of moral value. While this poses a number of abstract problems in moral philosophy, moral reasoning also raises specific practical questions about what people mean by term such as ‘ought’ and ‘should’.

Examples: Sharice Davids Calls for the 25th, Every man Should Know, Hatch Schmatch, Wisdom of the Oompa Loompas.

Paraphrasing: When significant elements of an argument must be rewritten to bring the logical elements of a text out for analysis, it will end up here.

Examples: First Woman’s Argument, Elizabeth Peratrovich Takes on the Douglas InnRussell Means – Mother Earth Will RetaliatePhil Robertson’s Argument from Rape.

Passing Voice: This is a grammatical form in which the subject of a sentence is acted upon rather than carrying out an action itself (e.g. ‘mistakes happen’ as opposed to ‘I screed up.’). What makes this interesting from a logical perspective is that passive voice is often used as a means of evading questions about what actually happened, such as who did it. It is particularly useful in conspiracy theories or other forms of evasive rhetoric.

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Playful Reasoning: This phrase could probably used to describe a few different things. Here it refers to reasoning which is used for entertainment. The resulting arguments are often intentionally absurd so as to generate humor, and the authors may not really intend to convince people of the truth of their conclusion.

Examples: How Many Lumps? Not Be On a Boat.

Principle of Charity: The principle of charity entails that given a choice between different plausible interpretations of an argument, one ought to choose the one which gives the argument the best chance at a sound evaluation. not only does this help people to get along, it helps to focus discussion on substantive issues rather than simple and obvious mistakes.

Examples: David Silverman on Atheist Bilboards, Lauren Boeberts a Feinstein, Russell Means – Mother Earth Will Retaliate.

Provincialism: This informal fallacy occurs when someone appeals to local identity or loyalty to some specific interest group in place of a more objective argument in favor of a conclusion.

Examples: David Silverman on Atheist Bilboards, Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Qualification: This refers to use of hedges in restricting or broadening the scope of an assertion. Careful wording can mean the difference between a patently false assertion and one that is more easily defended.

Examples: Caitlyn Jenner’s Political Priorities, Hatch Schmatch.

Red Herring: This is an argument in which commentary on an irrelevant matter has been substituted for the point at hand (for example: expressing support for American troops in lieu of an argument in favor of a specific war). The name evokes the image of someone dragging smoked fish across their tracks to throw off the hounds following the scent of a hair.

Examples: Mike Lee’s Mulligan

Reductio ad Absurdum: This type of argument attempts to disprove a belief by showing either that it leads to contradiction or to a claim which is patently absurd (i.e. one that contradicts another that people are unlikely to reject). It usually proceeds by starting with the view its author hopes to refute and drawing conclusions from that assumption. The conclusions drawn from this initial assumption will (it is usually hoped) lead to some form of absurdity.

Note that the inference from the claim to be refuted to its absurd conclusions is normally referred to as a sub-deduction.

Examples: Phil Robertson’s Argument from Rape.

Redundant Assertions: Sometimes people say the same thing in different ways. It’s important to recognize this when it happens and give the same point the same place in an argument.

Examples: A Hopi Comments on American Music, Edna Maclean On Iñupiaq Counting, First Woman’s Argument, Phil Robertson’s Argument from Rape, Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Rhetorical Questions: Sometimes people use a question to imply a statement. Logic students are usually instructed to rewrite such questions as statements.

Examples: A Hopi Comments on American Music, Elizabeth Peratrovich Takes on the Douglas Inn, Phil Robertson’s Argument from Rape, Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Statistics: This refers to the use of aggregate information to draw specific conclusions about a given subject. Statistics may be of interest, both in the sense that statistical reasoning is an important sub-field in itself and in the sense that the results of statistical research will often be referenced in the premises of an argument.

Examples: The King’s Pushback.

Straw Man: When an argument misrepresents the stated position of another individual, it commits this fallacy.

Examples: Phil Robertson’s Argument from Rape, Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Transposition: This is a basic principle of formal logic. When a statement reads If A, then B, then it can be transposed into If Not B, then Not A. Examples using transposition will go here.

Examples: First Woman’s Argument.

Unsupported Assertion: This occurs when a claim is offered without supporting evidence. As this would be true of any premises receiving no support from others in an argument, what distinguishes a normal premise from one we might call out as an unsupported assertion is that the latter is highly controversial and one would reasonably expect an author to make some effort to substantiate it. Failing that, the argument leaves others with a premise no more compelling than the conclusion it is supposed to support. this is at least a problem from a rhetorical perspective, even if it isn’t a clear-cut fallacy.

Examples: Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

Tu Quoque: This is a specific form of the ad hominem fallacy in which one attempts to counter a criticism by suggesting that its source (or a party connected to that source) could be worthy of the same criticism.

Examples: Hatch Schmatch, Mike Lee’s Mulligan, Lauren Boeberts a Feinstein.

Voicing: This occurs when someone speaks for someone else in the course of an argument. Both can be real people, but this also occurs when a character in a story serves as the voice for an author or a some other party (real or imagined). It also applies when a specific person speaks for another, for an institution, or even another entity (such as a god or a spirit). Yeah, some of these examples are going to be weird.

Examples: A Hopi Comments on American MusicFirst Woman’s Argument, Phil Robertson’s Argument from Rape, Wisdom of the Oompa Loompas., Marjorie Taylor Green …Shooter.

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