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