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Variety of Arguments on Societal Issues

Aristotle, in a section from Nicomachean Ethics, argues that there are certain basic steps which must be taken if an individual resistant to betterment is to be turned into a good citizen. In making that argument, he declares that "in general, passion seems to yield not to argument but to force" (6). In saying this, Aristotle commits the fallacy of false alternatives. Aristotle focus the reader on the words "argument" and "force" and deflects that reader from considering alternatives to these two limited choices.

Aristotle commits the fallacy of false alternatives because he wants to justify certain steps the state must take in order to produce good citizens. He is intent on describing a state where noble acts prevail, but he ignores the fact that passion can be channelled by leaders in ways other than rational argument or force and the fact that such situations often occur in fascist states such as Germany or Italy. Certainly both states used force, but Hitler and Mussolini came to power through irrational appeals to the intended nationalistic audiences---using neither force nor rational argument---but rather playing on the people's sense of frustration economically and as a result of the treaty after World War I. But Aristotle phrases the problem in such a way that the reader can be misled into believing that the two alternatives for dealing effectively with the people's passion are the only choices a leader has. Leaders can manipulate the people's passion with great success for their own ends simply by encouraging and channelling that passion for the leaders' own fascistic ends.

John Milton, in a section from Areopagitica, argues passionately and in a generally reasonable way against the proposal that the freedom of the press should be restricted for the good of society, religion, and government. It was proposed that "false, . . . scandalous, seditious and libelous" works be censored (8), and among the arguments Milton makes ...

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Variety of Arguments on Societal Issues. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 10:42, August 08, 2020, from