Part of the Applied Logic Series book series (APLS, volume 1)


Accent is a fallacy that is hard to know how to deal with in teaching courses on informal logic and argumentation. In some ways, it has seemed like a trivial, obscure, or antiquated fallacy, and in fact the majority of modern logic textbooks simply leave it out. Yet somehow it does seem to be an appropriate appendage to add to equivocation and amphiboly. And it does seem that verbal matters of stress in how an argument is presented are quite often very significant factors in judging how the argument should be interpreted, analysed and evaluated. It is true that logic has tended to neglect such matters, and that if informal logic is to be an applied subject of practical use, it should devote more attention to subtler questions of intonation and suggestion that very much affect how we interpret a speaker’s argumentation in drawing inferences from what she says.


Argument Framework Ambiguous Sentence Newspaper Headline Informal Logic Verbal Stress 
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  1. 1.
    See Section 3 below.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Section 5 below.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Sometimes also called ‘fallacies dependent on language’ or ‘fallacies inside language’, (see Chapter 1).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This is a practical, pedagogical claim, but the author can vouch for it from long experience of using such examples in courses on informal logic. Also, the failure of the textbooks to even try to use or adapt these examples of Aristotle is evidence that they are not useful for pedagogical purposes in English.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Perhaps around a third of texts with sections on informal fallacies have kept accent in. Many of the most influential or interesting of these textbook accounts of accent are mentioned below.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Grice [1975].Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Grice [1975].Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Blair [1988].Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Blair [1988].Google Scholar
  10. 1.
    Walton [1991 a].Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    This Gricean maxim is changed by van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1992, p. 52] to the commandment ‘Be clear’ . According to their account this does not mean that the speaker must be completely explicit, but it does mean that ‘he must not make it impossible, or all but impossible, for the listener to arrive at the correct interpretation’ [1992, p. 50].Google Scholar
  12. 1.
    Robinson [194 l].Google Scholar
  13. 1.
    Grice [1975], as outlined in Chapter 1.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Van Eemeren and Grootendorst [1984; 1992].Google Scholar
  15. 1.
    An analysis of the concept of commitment is given in Walton and Krabbe [1995].Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WinnipegCanada

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