Address the content

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In debate, a request to "address the content" or "address the substance" is in order whenever a debater has attacked an argument in a way that does not actually address that argument.

A number of frequently-used rhetorical deceptions and logical fallacies have this effect, including the following:

  • acorn tossing – making random provocative statements in order to throw the discussion off track
  • ad hominem – attacking the speaker rather than what the speaker said (the content)
  • tone-policing – focusing attention on a claim that the speaker is upset, rather than addressing what they said
  • argument by contradiction – reasserting one's own position without substantiation
  • dismissive statement – negating the speaker's argument without addressing it
  • straw man – attacking a position associated with the speaker's position but which is not currently under discussion
  • topic shifting and other forms of changing the subject