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A "slippery slope argument" is a type of argument in which a first step is taken and a series of inextricable consequences follow, ultimately leading to a disastrous outcome. Many textbooks on informal logic and critical thinking treat the slippery slope argument as a fallacy. Walton argues that used correctly in some cases, they can be a reasonable type of argument to shift a burden of proof in a critical discussion, while in other cases they are used incorrectly. Walton identifies and analyzes four types of slippery slope argument. Walton presents guidelines that show how each type of slippery slope argument can be used correctly or incorrectly, using over fifty case studies of argumentation on controversial issues. These include abortion, medical research on human embryos, euthanasia, the decriminalization of marijuana, pornography, and censorship, and banning of American flag burning.
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`His fourfold classification of slippery slope arguments combined with his admirable blending of a theoretical account of slopes with a practical guide to their criticism makes his work an important contribution to the study of informal logic. Walton's monograph is equally indispensable for anyone who teaches critical thinking.' Argumentation 'Walton offers insightful diagnostics of the success and failure of certain kinds of slippery slopes. The text is lucidly and entertainingly written, usefully divided up into titled subsections for easy reference ... an important new contribution to the growing literature on informal logic and practical reasoning.' Dale Jacquette, The Pennsylvania State University, History and Philosophy of Logic, 14 (1993) 'A welcome addition to the list of Walton's works on fallacies and practical reasoning. The study should appeal to a wide audience.' H.C. Byerly, University of Arizona, Choice, Mar '93 `the author's analysis ... is precise and thorough and lawyers, with their persistent recourse to the slippery slope, could derive benefit from this examination of the strengths, weaknesses and varied uses of this species of argument.' Cambridge Law Journal `Walton's book has the great merit of including a wide variety of credible, complex, and often striking examples of the kinds of arguments he wants to examine ... intelligent and thought-provoking book.' Times Higher Education Supplement `This is an enjoyable, lively book, very easy to read, full of interesting examples, on an extremely important subject.' Pragmatics & Cognition Vol 1 (2) 1993
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