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Appeal to Emotion

Latin: argumentum ad populam

Philosophy Pages

The informal fallacy of persuading someone to accept (or reject) a conclusion by arousing favorable (or unfavorable) emotions toward it or by emphasizing its widespread acceptance (or rejection) by others.

Bruce Thompson says emotional appeals are fallacious when not relevant to the subject at hand. However, an emotional appeal may be directly relevant and still lead to a false conclusion, depending on whether the facts which engender the emotions are true or not.

Fallacy Files makes a distinction between relevant and fallacious appeals to emotion based on the distinction between arguments for action and for belief:
Appeals to emotion are always fallacious when intended to influence our beliefs, but they are sometimes reasonable when they aim to motivate us to act. The fact that we desire something to be true gives not the slightest reason to believe it, and the fact that we fear something being true is no reason to think it false; but the desire for something is often a good reason to pursue it, and fear of something else a good reason to flee.