Periodic Table of Arguments

The atomic building blocks of persuasive discourse

Argument from similarity

This ad links gun control to the holocaust. As part of the argumentation in support of the view that the Second Amendment is a good thing, the arguer says: “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated”.

The arguer, in other words, claims that establishing gun control in present-day U.S. will lead to genocide and supports this claim by stating that this happened in historical Germany. Since the argument fits the form a is X, because is X, it can be identified as a first-order subject argument. In this specific case, a is instantiated by ‘establishing gun control in present-day U.S.’, X by ‘(will) le(a)d to genocide’, and b by ‘establishing gun control in historical Germany’.

Establishing gun control in present-day U.S. (a) will lead to genocide (X), because establishing gun control in historical Germany (b) led to genocide (X)

First-order subject arguments are further differentiated by identifying the types of statement in the conclusion and the premise. In this case, both are statements of fact (one future and one past), which means that we are dealing with a first-order subject argument supporting a fact with another fact (1 pre FF).

The trivial name of first-order subject arguments is derived from the characterization of the relationship between the subjects a and b. In this example, the argument draws on the idea that when it comes to the effects of establishing gun control, present-day U.S. is similar to historical Germany. We can therefore call such an argument an ‘argument from similarity’.

SOURCE

The example is taken from a campaign ad featuring Joe Wurzelbacher that was published on Youtube under the title Joe the Plumber Ad: Gun Control Caused Holocaust. URL = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOLl_PLNTeY.