The strategies of misattribution of commitments

Fabrizio Macagno, Douglas Walton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


This chapter investigates the structure and the strategies of the straw man fallacy. A straw man fallacy consists in the speaker’s attacking a distorted version of the other’s viewpoint or commitments, in order to rebut his argument more easily by attacking a position that has been simplified and weakened. This strategy, however, can lead to the risk of being accused of breaching the rules of the discussion by distorting the other’s ideas. This risk can be avoided by relying on other tactics (such as an appeal to emotions), by distorting specific types of content, and by communicating the distortion in specific ways. The goals of this chapter are to distinguish between these distinctive types of manipulation of the hearer’s commitments, and to point out the differences between implicit and explicit distortions of contents explicitly or implicitly conveyed. The various strategies are described and their dialectical effects brought to light.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterpreting Straw Man Argumentation -
Subtitle of host publicationThe Pragmatics of Quotation and Reporting
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages33
ISBN (Print)9783319625447
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event1st International Conference in Pragmatics and Philosophy, 2016 - Palermo, Italy
Duration: 16 May 201616 May 2016

Publication series

NamePerspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy and Psychology
ISSN (Print)2214-3807
ISSN (Electronic)2214-3815


Conference1st International Conference in Pragmatics and Philosophy, 2016


  • Argumentation
  • Emotions
  • Fallacies
  • Implicatures
  • Interpretation
  • Pragmatics
  • Presuppositions
  • Straw man


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