© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Introduction to Logic and Rhetoric

Who are you calling a logical fallacy?

Question: Why would someone who lives in Barbados buy the Snuggie? Because they're so stylin'? Nope. Turns out, we buy useless stuff because we fall for someone's line...a.k.a. their rhetoric. This course teaches you how to use rhetoric so you, too, can peddle useless goods.

Just kidding. Actually, this course teaches you how to use rhetoric to enhance your well-reasoned, totally above-board arguments. It also teaches you:

  • How to spot logical fallacies—the real-world version of magical mind control.
  • The difference between inductive and deductive reasoning. One kind of reasoning is really popular in China. And China's so hot right now.
  • The thing that started it all: the argument. Find out what they are and how to make your very own.

But wait, there's more!

Actually, on second thought, that's pretty much it.

Course Breakdown

Unit 1. Introduction to Logic and Rhetoric

In four pithy sections, this course introduces students to:

  • the basics of argumentation, including claims, evidence, warrants, and concession and rebuttal
  • the three best known rhetorical devices, ethos, pathos and logos
  • some of the most common logical fallacies that students hear and use in their daily lives
  • the distinction between inductive and deductive argumentation

Students will flex their newfound rhetorical muscles with two writing assignments: a persuasive essay chock full of rhetorical devices and an inductive paragraph.

Sample Lesson - Introduction

Lesson 1: Argument Sticklers

Arguments are useful little buggers. Using nothing more than an argument, you can:

  • Convince your friend, a die-hard Breaking Bad fan, that The Wire is in fact the best TV show of all time.
  • Successfully petition a teacher to extend the deadline on that essay you've been putting off writing because you just had to watch the Breaking Bad finale. (What can we say? Despite ultimately being wrong, your friend made some good points.)
  • Weasel out of doing the dishes on your night because you've just got to write that essay. After all, the teacher's extended the deadline once already!

Sounds good, right? Who doesn't want to get their way and convince everyone that they're right pretty much all of the time?

There's just one little problem with our imagined scenario. It assumes that nobody else in the world knows how to argue. And as anyone who's ever gotten into a fight with a sibling or had to explain less-than-ideal behavior to a parent knows, that's just not true.

Become an argument stickler, get a sticker.


One way other people can crush our hopes of dominating the world through argument is by refusing to accept a claim—a general statement of belief or interpretation of the facts—without a good reason. In fact, really hardcore argumentative types will demand not one but many reasons why they should believe someone's claim to be true. They'll ask for facts, statistics, quotes from experts—the whole nine yards. In short, they want evidence.

Who are these picky argument sticklers? You know them. They're the teachers who ask you to fill your English papers with more citations from the text than you can shake a stick at. They're the parents who tell you that "because all my friends are doing it" isn't a good enough reason to get a tattoo. They're anyone who demands that you turn an argument statement into an actual complete argument using the most basic building blocks of the trade: claims and evidence. And after today, you'll be one of them.