PHIL Oakland Community College Logical Force in Collateral Damage Discussion


Moore and Parker say on p. 133, that

“we as critical thinkers must be able to […] distinguish the between the logical force of a set of remarks and its psychological force”.

Present to us rhetorical device taken up in Ch. 5. Then, tell us what that device means. Then, give an example of the device, clearly presenting both the logical force, as well as the psychological force, of your chosen set of remarks. Here is a model:

A dysphemism is a word/expression used to induce a negative attitude.

“OK, boomer” is my example.

“The (middle-aged) substitute teacher said we were noisy in Social Studies today, and so we would all have our time at recess cut in half. You should have seen the look on her face when Pat said to her – “Yeah, OK, boomer.” She won’t be cutting our recess down again!”

As for the logical force of what Pat said here – there was none really. There is no substance here. No reason was provided for why the substitute teacher’s decision was unfair or somehow inappropriate. Moreover, becoming middle-aged and being of the so-called baby-boomer generation is not anything to be ashamed of. (!)

In terms of the psychological force, Pat used sarcasm with “Yeah” and “OK”. Pat was not agreeing to what the teacher did, nor did Pat really think it OK. In addition, Pat used a dysphemism, calling the teacher a ‘boomer’ . The word ‘boomer’ was intended to induce a negative attitude towards the teacher. Evidently, that teacher took that to heart, the insult seemed to carry some negative weight.


It is to be noted that rhetorical devices are context-dependent. In some contexts, a ‘boomer’ is simply a term for a being a member of a generation. Now, “OK, boomer” is not really horrible thing to say, but typically it serves as a mild dysphemism.


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