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Argumentation

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 389–407 | Cite as

The witch hunt as a structure of argumentation

  • Douglas Walton
Article

Abstract

The concept of a witch hunt is frequently invoked, in recent times, to describe a kind of procedure for deciding the guilt of a person against whom an accusation has been made. But what exactly is a witch hunt? In this paper, ten conditions are formulated as a cluster of properties characterizing the witch hunt as a framework in which arguments are used: (1) pressure of social forces, (2) stigmatization, (3) climate of fear, (4) resemblance to a fair trial, (5) use of simulated evidence, (6) simulated expert testimony, (7) nonfalsifiability characteristic of evidence, (8) reversal of polarity, (9) non-openness, and (10) use of the loaded question technique. The witch hunt, as characterized by these criteria, is shown to function as a negative normative structure for evaluating argumentation used in particular cases.

Keywords

Recent Time Normative Structure Social Force Expert Testimony Fair Trial 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Walton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WinnipegWinnipegCanada

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