In The Garden of Eloquence (1577), Henry Peacham observes that apodioxis is used "when the orator rejecteth the objection or argument of his adversaries as things needless, absurd, false, or framed by malice, or invented by subtlety."
As a logical fallacy, apodioxis is known as argumentum ad lapidem.
Etymology: From the Greek, "the act of driving away"
Examples and Observations:
- "Is Joel Klein a racist? The answer is unambiguously no. And the very absurdity of the question underscores the types of tactics to which the United Federation of Teachers is willing to stoop as it breaks with the administration over the Children First initiative."
(Editorial in The New York Sun, May 15, 2003)
- The private equity giants Blackstone Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts [KKR] are longtime rivals that compete for multibillion-dollar deals. But during the last decade’s buyout boom, according to newly released e-mails in a civil lawsuit accusing them of collusion, the two firms appeared to be on much cozier terms. . . .
"The e-mails are part of a court filing Wednesday in an antitrust civil lawsuit brought against 11 of the world’s largest private equity firms that accuses them of colluding to drive down the prices of more than two dozen takeovers of publicly traded companies. . . .
"A spokeswoman for K.K.R., Kristi Huller, said the plaintiffs 'make the preposterous claim that the entire private equity industry came together under a master plan to decide which firms would be permitted to acquire any particular public company.'"
(Peter Lattman and Eric Lichtblau, "E-Mails Cited to Back Lawsuit’s Claim That Equity Firms Colluded on Big Deals." The New York Times, October 10, 2012)
- "English has borrowed words from over 350 other languages, and over three-quarters of the English lexicon is actually Classical or Romance in origin. Plainly, the view that to borrow words leads to a language's decline is absurd, given that English has borrowed more words than most."
(David Crystal, English as a Global Language, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 2003)
- "Then there's the disease excuse.
"It goes like this: Drug addiction is a disease, so society has no right to punish addicts for their illness. Well, this kind of ridiculous argument makes me ill. We need to stop feeling sorry for people who careen out control, and begin to impose sanctions on them."
(Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor: The Good, the Bad, and the Completely Ridiculous in American Life. Broadway Books, 2000)
- "Thinkst thou that Faustus is so fond, to imagine
That after this life there is any paine?
Tush, these are trifles and meere olde wives tales."
(Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus, c. 1592)
- "Apodioxis is . . . [v]ery popular among members of the current political class when asked a question they don't want to answer. 'I won't dignify that with a response' is the set form in political debate. 'Next question,' delivered icily, is the version you see most often in celebrity interviews. When, in the film Wayne's World, the protagonist rejects a proposition with the exclamation 'And monkeys might fly outta my butt!' he's using a form of apodioxis."
(Sam Leith, Words Like Loaded Pistols: Rhetoric From Aristotle to Obama. Basic Books, 2012)
- "One useful variety [of apodioxis] peculiar to learned papers is the dismissal of a point on the grounds that it would take too long to discuss it. Ex. (ironical): 'Is milk nutritious? The discussion of such a question would exceed the limits set upon this article' (A. Jarry, La Chandelle verte, p. 489). Or one can reject points by declaring them to be of secondary interest: 'obviously certain details of your paper might be discussed [a list of points is then given very rapidly], but we'll examine instead . . ..'"
(Bernard Marie Dupriez, A Dictionary of Literary Devices: Gradus, A-Z. Trans. by Albert W. Halsall. University of Toronto Press, 1991)