Periodic Table of Arguments

The atomic building blocks of persuasive discourse

Argumentum ad populum

Schermafdruk 2018-03-17 22.34.41

The arguer states that he is the world’s greatest writer of 140 character sentences and supports this claim by mentioning that many people have said so. Since the argument fits the form q is T, because q is Z, it can be identified as a second-order predicate argument. While ‘T’ has the fixed meaning ‘is true’, in this specific case, q is instantiated by ‘that I am the world’s greatest writer of 140 character sentences’ and Z by ‘was said by many people’.

That I am the world's greatest writer of 140 character sentences (q) is true (T), because that I am the world's greatest writer of 140 character sentences (q) was said by many people (Z)

Second-order predicate arguments are further differentiated by identifying the types of statement in the conclusion and the premise. In this case, the former is a statement of (logical) value and the latter a statement of fact, which means that we are dealing with a second-order predicate argument supporting a value with a fact (1 pre VF).

The trivial name of second-order predicate arguments is derived from the characterization of the relationship between the predicates Z and T. In this example, the argument is based on the idea that the fact that something was said by many people (Z) establishes its truth (T). We can therefore call such an argument an ‘argumentum ad populum’. Traditionally, it is also known under the names of ‘argument from the many’ and ‘mob appeal’.

SOURCE

The example is a tweet by Donald J. Trump on July 24, 2014.