View Full Version : Logic and rhetoric, a learner's guide

04-27-2006, 09:03 PM
I am a new member, although I have read the boards for a few years. I find that in many threads I would like to say something, but am reluctant as the level of conversation is beyond me. For example I have no idea what a "Strawman" is, I do not know any of the Latin references, and other terms used are beyond me. I am not illiterate, I work in a highly technical field and understand Boolian logic quite well. I have good communication skills and have taught numerous training sessions on technical subjects. In this forum I am a little out-gunned. I know I have something to add, and it is high time I learned how to say it in this forum. I know the burden to learn is on me, and am reaching out for suggestions of books or texts I can use to bring myself up to speed. Any suggestions would be apprectiated.


Diogenes the Cynic
04-27-2006, 09:12 PM
These pages should help.


04-27-2006, 09:13 PM
I too am often reluctant to become involved in some of these debates but this site (http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/) has been a great deal of help for me. I hope it is for you as well.

04-27-2006, 09:14 PM
Crap! DtC beats me to the draw again!

04-27-2006, 09:32 PM
Thanks DtC and Nic2004, I quickly scaned the links, and there is a lot there to learn. No wonder fighting ingorance is taking longer than thought, it will take weeks for me on just this issue alone! Thanks again.

Wendell Wagner
04-28-2006, 11:03 AM
There's a good textbook on this subject: _Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric_ by Howard Kahane and Nancy M. Cavender. It's a little expensive if you were to buy it new. You might try to get it used or out of a library. The earlier editions are just by Kahane. Cavender is a typical successor author appointed by a textbook author to continue to update later editions of a book (after the author's retirement) in order to keep it up-to-date.

04-28-2006, 11:05 AM
You can also approach it one issue at a time. For example, if you use the search terms strawman and logic in Google and hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button, you're good to go. I find it much easier to learn about new issues as they come up and in the context of a particular discussion as opposed to reading about them in pure study situation.

Tyrrell McAllister
04-28-2006, 02:26 PM
You also shouldn't feel like knowing technical rhetoric lingo is really necessary before you even begin to participate. If an unfamiliar term comes up in a discussion, you can look it up at that time in one of the links provided above, as daffyduck suggests. Such terms usually refer to rhetorical fallacies that you can avoid just by thinking through your argument carefully, even if you don't know the specific terms. If you have already mastered technical subjects, then you probably have a sufficiently logical mind to build good arguments without having to know what ad hominem and modus tollens mean. Most of the named fallacies only happen when the debater is either being deliberately underhanded or (more commonly) lazy.