Appeal to guilt

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An appeal to guilt is a form of appeal to negative emotion in which the target is encouraged to feel guilty for holding the views for which they are arguing, often by ascribing false motives to the target, or motives which may seem "obviously" true despite not being true at all.


  • The appeal to guilt is very similar to the appeal to shame. The difference (tentatively) is that "shame" is more about the fear of social disapproval, while "guilt" is an appeal to one's own moral sense.


The "appeal to guilt" may be acceptable as a way of guilting an opponent into accepting an otherwise-valid argument when logic and reason have failed; see rhetorical deception/valid uses for further discussion.