Prejudicial Language Summary

(also known as: variant imagization)

Description: Loaded or emotive terms used to attach value or moral goodness to believing the proposition.

Logical Form:

Claim A is made using loaded or emotive terms.

Therefore, claim A is true.

Example #1:

All good Catholics know that impure thoughts are the work of the devil, and should be resisted at all costs.

Explanation: The phrase “all good Catholics” is the loaded or prejudicial language being used.  The implication is that Catholics who don’t resist impure thoughts are “bad Catholics”, which is not fair — they may just not be as strong willed, or perhaps they don’t agree with the Church’s views on sex.

Example #2:

Students who want to succeed in life will do their homework each and every night.

Explanation: The assertion is that students who don’t do their homework every night don’t want to succeed in life, which is bad reasoning.  Perhaps the student is sick one night, tired, doesn’t understand the work, or was busy making out with his father’s secretary in the office supply closet next to the memo pads.  The point is, dad, you cannot assume that just because I skipped homework a few nights that it means I didn’t want to succeed in life!

Exception: This is often used for motivation, but even if the intent is honorable, it is still fallacious.

What Now: Prejudicial language can be a powerful and effective persuasion tool. Use it in addition to a well-reasoned argument, not in place of one.

References:

Damer, T. E. (2008). Attacking Faulty Reasoning: A Practical Guide to Fallacy-Free Arguments. Cengage Learning.