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Bias, Rhetorical Devices and Argumentation, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 753

Essay

After having considered a proposed speech, one can point out a number of biased statements, fallacies and rhetorical devices used in order to appeal to the audience as well as to make a favorable and advantages image of the speaker in the eyes of the audience. When addressing the candidate, the campaigner points out that “there is only one man who can rid the politics of this State of the evil domination of Boss Jim Gettys”. This is an example of a biased statement because it reveals a one-way option as an outcome. Furthermore, in this statement one can also witness a scapegoating fallacy when the current political situation is being attributed directly to a particular person – Jim Gettys (Meany & Shuster, 2002). A vivid example of another biased statement is the following abstract, concerning the political activity of the Kane’s opponent “Kane: with one purpose only: to point out and make public the dishonesty, the downright villainy, of Boss Jim W. Gettys’ political machine – now in complete control of the government of this State”. In above statement the speaker also commits ad hominem fallacy by means of attacking the advocate of the argument – Jim Gettys – instead of the argument itself – insufficient political system (Meany & Shuster, 2002). When addressing the target audience, the speaker makes an emphasis on the classes of the people, pointing out that under the current governor they are the ones being mistreated and neglected, which makes it a form of an ethical bias “The working man – the working man and the slum child know they can expect my best efforts in their interests. The decent, ordinary citizens know that I’ll do everything in my power to protect the underprivileged, the underpaid, and the underfed!”. At the end of the statement the speaker uses a rhetorical device known as alliteration, when the same sound or syllable is being repeated at the beginning of several words in close succession (Ravi, 2006). Throughout the speech Kane mentions making promises a couple of times, but these statements are confusing for the listeners, which make them an example of an obfuscation, and present paradox in their meaning “Well, I’d make my promises now if I weren’t too busy arranging to keep them” and “I made no campaign promises, because until a few weeks ago I had no hope of being elected”. In the last sentence Kane tries to appeal to the audience by pointing out that from having no chances at all he managed to become the number-one candidate. In the lines of the speech one can also identify apple-polishing fallacy when there is an attempt to create a disposition toward agreement by paying compliments (Ravi, 2006) “I am speaking of Charles Foster Kane, the fighting liberal, the friend of the working man, the next Governor of this State, who entered upon this campaign” and  appeal to the people, which suggests that someone’s claim or argument is correct simply because it’s what most everyone believes “Every straw vote, every independent poll shows that I’ll be elected”.

In his speech Kane puts an emphasis on the fact that the absence of promises during his political campaign should be devoted to the lack of hope for the success in the elections. But now he builds a deductive argument by means of using the premise that “Every straw vote, every independent poll shows that I’ll be elected” as a justification for aroused hope for the victory in the elections, which, in its case, results in the conclusion that now he can afford to make promises. And as a result, he makes one “to appoint a Special District Attorney to arrange for the indictment, prosecution, and conviction of Boss Jim W. Gettys”.

From my point of view, Kane’s argument can be considered both effective and not. On the one hand, the exclamatory tone of the speech combined with effective use of rhetorical devices enable the speaker to catch listeners’ attention and go along with his opinion. Moreover, the absence of direct pressure on the listeners accomplished by means of generalizations helps to keep listeners interested in the speech as well as prevents them from getting bored. On the other hand, however, the absence of live examples or proves for stated presuppositions and an emphasis on the opponent’s disadvantages instead of speaker’s advantages make argumentation neither persuasive nor reliable.

References

Meany, John & Shuster, Kate. (2002). Argument Theory for Debaters. Art, Argument, and Advocacy (pp. 65-67). IDEA.

Ravi, K. R. (2006). Thinking about thinking. Jaico Publishing House.

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