Deductive Arguments and Fallacies in the Presidential Debates

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PHL 101
November 5, 2012

Deductive Arguments and Fallacies in the Presidential Debates

Politics has always been one of the subjects where people use all sorts of different words and styles to convince people that their choices are the right choices. It isn't surprising that one of the easiest places to find deductive arguments and fallacies is during one of the largest broadcasted and viewed political events, the Presidential Debates. In this paper I will point out a deductive argument and a fallacy from each of the three presidential debates and explain what type of argument/ fallacy it is and what clearly makes it so. I will then cover briefly whether or not the candidates make a greater number of valid or fallacious arguments and how these effect the way I see politics.

During the first debate, one of the valid arguments I noticed was when Obama responded to statements make by Romney about dealing with middle income taxation. Obama stated:
“Well, I think, lets talk about taxes, because I think it's instructive. Now four years ago, when I stood on this stage, I said that I would cut taxes for middle-class families. And that's exactly what I did. We cut taxes for middle class families about $3,600.” This statement is a deductive argument categorized as Modus Ponens. It follows a simple equation of [if p then q][p][therefor q] If we look at Obama's quoted we can see the for of this argument plainly using some basic knowledge that he was previously elected president. When I stood on this stage, I said if I become president then I will cut taxes for middle-class families. Well I did become president. I cut taxes for the middle class families. The fallacy I chose to talk about in this debate was a great example of poisoning the well. Poisoning the well is a fallacy that uses loaded language to discourage the argument before it is even made. This is seen in the following quote.

“Good. I'm glad you raised that, and it's a critical...
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