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The Argument and the Honey Pot : A pragmatic account of fallacies of seduction

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Abstract

This paper proposes to harness the linguistic theory that looks at the construction of meaning in context – i.e., pragmatics – to investigate the contextual effects bearing on the interpretation of arguments in manipulative seduction contexts. Adopting a cognitively grounded relevance-theoretic approach, I will show that deceptive seduction is used primarily to strengthen the hearer’s perception of the seducer, thereby strengthening the standpoints and arguments s/he puts forward. In that sense, it will be argued, seductive moves function like contextual constraints on the interpretative processes. Exploring further the cognitive grounding of human interpretative processes, I will claim that many seductive manipulations rely on the halo effect – the cognitive bias whereby a positive trait (e.g., attractiveness) tends to spill over other personality traits (e.g., competence) – to create a contextual environment that will boost argument evaluation.

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Keywords: argument ad carotam; argument of authority; cognitive biases; context selection constraint; fallacies; halo effect; manipulation; pragmatics; seduction

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 4, 2020

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