admin 27 Jul 2012

In pro-life discourse arguers strategically use arguments from consequence in order to make the audience aware of the gravity of abortion by pointing out the dire consequences of this deed. Using the pragma-dialectical critical questions (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992, 2004), I will test the dialectical soundness of the causal argumentation put forward by pro-lifers in various argumentative texts. The examination of these texts reveals that the death of the aborting mother, different forms of punishment for the rest of the family, for doctors, pharmacists and for whoever else might take part in an abortion directly or indirectly are among the main consequences predicted by pro-lifers. As critical questions of the type “Is indeed abortion conducive to such consequences or are there other causes that lead to these effects?” cannot be adequately answered, the arguments from consequence are inappropriately used degenerating into slippery slopes. I consider that, despite their fallaciousness, the slippery slope arguments used by pro-lifers may have a great rhetorical potential. These observations support my contention that ethical disagreements such as the abortion dilemma are instances of ethical discourse, a type of discourse with a specific identity.