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The Straw Man Fallacy in Disagreements on Moral Issues

The straw man argument is a logical fallacy in which the appearance of refuting an argument is created by replacing the actual subject of the debate with a false one. The effectiveness of this technique is explained by the fact that when using it, the opponent’s argument begins to look absurd, which gives the arguer a significant advantage. After your opponent distorts your point of view “so that it seems outrageous and unacceptable,” he concludes that your opinion is thus mistaken (Vaughn 59). This attempt to distort the position is the meaning of this technique.

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Many people use this technique unconsciously when, for example, they misinterpret the position of the speaker. However, in discussions, many people deliberately misrepresent the words of the opponent. In particular, people are tempted to use the straw man fallacy in disagreements on moral issues because moral issues are directly related to the general worldview of a person. For some people, it is so important to prove how right they are in their worldview that they are ready to use dishonest ways to combat it.

Moral arguments are unquestionably a unique form of debate. The use of this fallacy is dangerous for those people who are not sure of their ethical principles or are not good at noticing an attempt to deceive in a debate. However, when I realize that someone is trying to use this technique against me, I feel sorry for this person. After all, an attempt to confuse a person in their words demonstrates that the opponent lacks solid arguments. I am confident in my moral principles, and therefore I am not afraid when they try to deceive me by using substitution of notions.

I have repeatedly had a chance to enter into disputes on the topic of morality, and the straw man fallacy was frequently used against me. I remember an argument with a friend of mine, to whom I told that people deserve to be forgiven even if they have done bad things. To this, she asked me if this means that now all prisoners should be released from prisons. She then said that an increase in the number of criminals would lead to a rise in the number of crimes in the world, which is terrible. Therefore, my friend distorted the meaning of my initial statement and then challenged the argument artificially added to the discussion. Whether she was aware of it or not, my friend used the straw man fallacy.

Many logical tricks can be confused with each other. Some may mistakenly assume that the example I am demonstrating illustrates the appeal of the personal technique. However, the essence of this fallacy is to attack the person giving an argument, not the statement itself. In the example I have indicated, my friend challenged my opinion by interacting only with my statement. It can be argued that the appeal to the person technique is used if a person attempts to dispute an argument by bringing up something unrelated to the claim. A claim is rejected because the person making it has a particular character, political affiliation, or motive (Vaughn 59). My example is entirely different; it is intended to demonstrate such a logical trap as the straw man fallacy.

Thus, the straw man fallacy usage in the field of moral issues is associated with the desire of people to be proven right. This technique should not be confused with other similar ones, particularly with the appeal to the person technique. My example was intended to demonstrate how people use this concept substitution technique in real life. Not to fall for such tricks, people should pay attention to how their opponent interprets their words.

Reference

Vaughn, Lewis. Doing Ethics: Moral Reasoning and Contemporary Issues. Ed. Ken Barton. 5th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2008.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, July 25). The Straw Man Fallacy in Disagreements on Moral Issues. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/the-straw-man-fallacy-in-disagreements-on-moral-issues/

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StudyCorgi. (2022, July 25). The Straw Man Fallacy in Disagreements on Moral Issues. https://studycorgi.com/the-straw-man-fallacy-in-disagreements-on-moral-issues/

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StudyCorgi. "The Straw Man Fallacy in Disagreements on Moral Issues." July 25, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-straw-man-fallacy-in-disagreements-on-moral-issues/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "The Straw Man Fallacy in Disagreements on Moral Issues." July 25, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/the-straw-man-fallacy-in-disagreements-on-moral-issues/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'The Straw Man Fallacy in Disagreements on Moral Issues'. 25 July.

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