14 September 2012
The Final Nail in the Coffin
What better way to stir up a person’s emotions than to threaten his privacy, safety, and the well-being of his family? This example of pathos is a common tactic in a rhetorical argument, and one that has its place, but certainly does not belong in a work meant to raise awareness of the destruction of forests and canyons. Edward Abbey, author of Eco-Defense, begins his work by describing a scene that would make any man’s heart race, “If a stranger batters your door down with an axe, threatens your family and yourself with a deadly weapon, and proceeds to loot your home of whatever he wants…” (Abbey) Immediately you find yourself engulfed, prepared for battle, only to realize just a few lines down, Abbey is using this manipulation as a set up for his argument that we should feel the same emotions towards the defense of our public lands. The author immediately loses merit with this false analogy, and the continuation of fallacies throughout the work serve only to prove his argument ineffective.
Abbey goes on to name several large businesses and universities and charges them with “looting” these public lands, and compares their behavior to that of “gangsters.” His tone in this essay is harsh and accusatory, continuing to name several politicians who in his words would, “sell the graves of their mothers if there’s a quick buck in the deal.” Attacking the integrity of these men based on this opinion alone, and not directly addressing their stance on preserving our ecosystem, is an example of ad hominem, yet another logical fallacy that discredits his arguments. His claim that any person who goes into a field and begins drilling is committing a crime against the human race is barbaric. Human kind has evolved, and our tools and equipment have evolved as well, but the fact that some people make their living by using what is naturally available through plants and animals and...
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