emotive language


by / 19 Comments / 71 View / April 9, 2015

EMOTIVE LANGUAGE – Using loaded words in place of facts or evidence. 

The fallacy of Emotive Language is in making a claim that is only supported by emotionally charged rhetoric.

Image a debate over gun control:

Abe: Why do you think we need stricter gun control laws?
Ben: Well, it’s because I don’t want to see children shot to death at school. With so many massacres it is about time we do something sensible!

Notice there are several loaded words here. The phrase “shot to death” is graphic. The word “massacres” is used even if it may not be appropriate. The argument ends with “sensible” which adds nothing to the debate. At no point was there any justification for stricter gun control. It is better to collect and present the relevant facts and then try to connect these to the conclusion.

Some examples are more subtle. An arguer might replace one word with a more loaded one:

“You know the Bible is just a very old book filled with a bunch of magic, right?”

Here the mythical word “magic” replaces the more neutral sounding “miracles” The word “magic” may even be used completely out of context.

In debates emotive language can be a useful tool, but it should never supplant the facts and evidence.

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