Quotations and Presumptions: Dialogical Effects of Misquotations

Douglas Walton, Fabrizio Macagno


Manipulation of quotation, shown to be a common tactic of argumentation in this paper, is associated with fallacies like wrenching from context, hasty generalization, equivocation, accent, the straw man fallacy, and ad hominem arguments. Several examples are presented from everyday speech, legislative debates and trials. Analysis using dialog models explains the critical defects of argumentation illustrated in each of the examples. In the formal dialog system CB, a proponent and respondent take turns in making moves in an orderly goal-directed sequence of argumentation in which the proponent tries to persuade the respondent to become committed to a conclusion by asking questions and offering arguments. Analyzing quotation by using the notion of commitment in dialog, it is shown (a) how an arguer’s previous assertions can be brought to light in the course of a dialog to deal with problems arising from misquotation, (b) how the profile of dialog model allows a critic to analyse the fundamental effects misquotation brings about in a dialog, and (c) how the critic can use such an analysis to correct the problem.


dialog systems; fallacies; straw man fallacy; persuasion dialog

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22329/il.v31i1.657

ISSN: 0824-2577