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    Testing Uber Alles

    cheneyuberalles.jpgQuote:  "The notion of a single exam implies there are national standards, and that implies a national curriculum. Then we are on the way to a centralized Prussian education system." David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges, in the New York Times.

    Figure of Speech:  Slippery Slope, the fallacy of dire consequences.

    A presidential commission has recommended standardized tests for college students, similar to the national exams that torture high schoolers.  David Warren's response  -- a dark vision of a goose-stepping educational future -- constitutes a perfect Slippery Slope.  The fallacy assumes that a decision will lead to disaster.

    Gun nuts love the Slippery Slope.  Ban bazookas, and pretty soon feds in black helicopters will be targeting innocent quail hunters!  It's a rhetorical fallacy because it assumes that precedence dictates everything, that people are incapable of making one rational choice at a time.

    Not that Figaro would want to be tested himself.  The results wouldn't be pretty.

    Snappy Answer:  "As a Prussian-American, I am offended by that ethnic slur."

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    Reader Comments (8)

    Excellent site. You are going on my link list.

    Libertarians in general like the slippery slope argument (not just gun nuts) because it is a great argument against any governmental intrusions. My understanding previously was that slippery slope arguments are all fallacious, but there seems to be a lot of contention about that. Though it seems to all be coming from Libertarians.

    Thanks for the post, DS
    June 20, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdogscratcher
    Slippery slope is a logical fallacy, but arguably not a rhetorical one (we reserve the right to contradict ourselves). The difference lies in the distinction between formal logic's search for The Truth, and rhetoric's emphasis on choice. While formal logic has many rules, argument has virtually none.

    And many thanks for the link.
    June 22, 2006 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    "Slippery slope is a logical fallacy, but arguably not a rhetorical one..."

    Excellent distinction. So the goal of rhetoric is simply to persuade, regardless of the "Truth" of a matter? DS
    July 11, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdogscratcher
    Yessir. Deliberative argument seeks a decision, while purely logical discourse (called "dialectic" by showoff philosophers) seeks the Truth.

    Since there is no "true" decision, you're left only with probability--and persuasion. Slippery Slope could be a reasonable estimate of probability, of what's likely to happen.

    If none of this makes sense (or if it's boring you to pieces), my book does this way better. Let me know if you'd like an excerpt.

    July 11, 2006 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    I appreciate the dialogue: instead of an excerpt however, I will buy the book. Do you have a preferred outlet?

    PS. Even within the Philosophical community, there are those who think the best that can ever be hoped for in most cases is "probability." The absolutes are the exception rather than the rule. DS
    July 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdogscratcher
    I would appreciate your ordering it through my own site's link to Amazon:
    Many thanks!

    July 13, 2006 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Consider it done. DS
    July 13, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdogscratcher
    Perhaps you should do an excerpt or two: I didn't realize the book wouldn't ship until Feb of 2007! I don't know if can stand the wait. What if I find myself rhetorically challenged in the meantime?
    July 15, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterdogscratcher

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