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I'm fairly sure there is a word or phrase to describe arguing emotively from an extreme, or biased, point of view as if your view is fact, but I can't remember what it may be. (I am wanting to use this word or phrase in a reply, I promise it is not a crossword clue.)

Any hints?

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Hyperbole, perhaps? Not exactly what you mean, but close I think. –  Noldorin Nov 10 '10 at 22:03
@Noldorin That's exactly it! And true, probably why I couldn't remember it was that the word pertains to the rhetoric rather than the emotive. Add that as an answer, with appropriate qualifications, and I will use it as the answer –  johnc Nov 10 '10 at 22:09
Ah, excellent. I wasn't confident initially, but I've added a full answer now. :) –  Noldorin Nov 10 '10 at 23:41
+1 also; it's a useful word to have in the vocabulary that I'm sure others are looking for too. –  Noldorin Nov 10 '10 at 23:41
Sorry, but Hyperbole is not the correct answer guys. –  Slomojo Nov 11 '10 at 3:08

6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I hope most are agreed that "hyperbole" is not a good answer for the original question.

I'm thinking the sentiment expressed in the question is close to a definition of "dogmatic," though "dogmatic" does not connote anything about being extreme, more about simply stating opinions as if they were facts. The question pertains as much to the arguing from a particular point of view as it does to the expression of that point of view. "Dogmatic" seems to have this overtone, since the employment of dogma is almost exclusively in the context of persuasion, and not infrequently, argumentation. Anyway, it follows that "to argue dogmatically" would be very close to the second part of "arguing emotively from an extreme, or biased, point of view as if your view is fact," but it does not capture the "extreme" aspect the poser wants, more the "arguing as if your view were already ascertained fact" aspect.

So, "dogmatic" is not a perfect fit--but maybe there isn't one.

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Although hyperbole was the word I was struggling for, on reflection, I agree that, whilst still not an exact literal analogue of the given question, dogmatic is probably a better answer, so I have chosen to accept it instead. Thanks –  johnc Mar 26 '12 at 21:41

It's a Fallacious Argument, of which there are many varieties, find one here that fits your specific case... could well be Argument By Laziness (or Argument By Uninformed Opinion)


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No, it's not a fallacious argument. Biased and emotive argument is orthogonal to factuality! –  Noldorin Nov 11 '10 at 12:11
I think you're in the right direction, but your answer is very general. –  Jay Jan 24 '12 at 16:09

Perhaps you mean begging the question? According to BegTheQuestion.info, it means:

"Begging the question" is a form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself. When one begs the question, the initial assumption of a statement is treated as already proven without any logic to show why the statement is true in the first place.

A simple example would be "I think he is unattractive because he is ugly." The adjective "ugly" does not explain why the subject is "unattractive" -- they virtually amount to the same subjective meaning, and the proof is merely a restatement of the premise. The sentence has begged the question.

Interestingly, the term "begging the question" is commonly misused to mean, "to raise the question."

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I think you're actually thinking of a logical fallacy, known as the appeal to misleading authority, or ipse dixit. http://www.fallacyfiles.org/authorit.html

This occurs when someone incorrectly assumes an opinion to be fact. In contrast, hyperbole is an exaggerated statement not intended to be taken as fact.

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An extreme or biased view is not necessarily a logical fallacy. In fact, they are in general orthogonal concepts. Ironically, it's a logical fallacy to assume that hyperbole/exaggeration is a logical fallacy. –  Noldorin Nov 10 '10 at 23:42
@Noldorin: But the definition of hyperbole is a statement that's NOT meant to be taken literally. Wouldn't it follow then that one who used hyperbole as a foundation for a logical argument would be committing a logical fallacy? –  Scott Mitchell Nov 10 '10 at 23:55
@Scott: That's not the definition of hyperbole in its general sense. Hyperbole may or may not be taken literally, in fact. –  Noldorin Nov 10 '10 at 23:56
@Noldorin: Hrm, Dictionary.com gives two definitions for hyperbole: 'obvious and intentional exaggeration' and 'an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally.' Isn't an exaggeration, by definition, a step removed from fact? –  Scott Mitchell Nov 11 '10 at 0:07
@Scott: Exaggeration is not really a well-defined term, and is a function of subjectivity really. In this sense, it's not really mutually exclusive with factuality. –  Noldorin Nov 11 '10 at 0:50

The term you are looking for seems to be hyperbole.

The Wikipedia entry defines it pretty well:

Hyperbole ... is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.

Merriam-Webster simply defines it as "extravagant exaggeration", which is perhaps the most generic meaning. Most commonly the word is used in the context of a debate/argument.

It evidently refers more to the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device, but emotion/persuasion often goes hand in hand, so it's pretty appropriate for the case you're considering.

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Hyperbole isn't necessarily related to a biased argument, which is the title of the question. Hyperbole is rhetorical exaggeration. –  Slomojo Nov 11 '10 at 3:00
@slomojo: Yes, and if you read my comment on the original question, you'll see my admission that the word doesn't exactly fit what the poster was asking for. It is however close, and the poster confirmed it was what he wanted. :) –  Noldorin Nov 11 '10 at 12:10
Oh I know that :) –  Slomojo Nov 11 '10 at 21:10
Hmm, I don't see how this fits at all. Maybe if we knew the OP's context. But hyperbole is when you say something like, "I was attacked by a dog that was the size of a truck!" The dog was not literally the size of a truck; this is just a way of emphasizing that he was very big. The poster's question sounds more like he is referring to statements like, "As all Republicans are racists, Senator Jones is opposing this bill just because it will help black people." –  Jay Jan 24 '12 at 15:56
@Jay: What you're talking about that is actually just a subset of hyperbole, "metaphorical hyperbole" (or "hyperbolic imagery" if you like). It does in fact extend to a wider sense, as I point out in my post. –  Noldorin Jan 24 '12 at 16:52

I would call this prejudice or prejudgement: making a judgement before heeding relevant facts or considering other viewpoints; presenting opinion as fact without sufficient evidence. Pontification could be related.

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