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Encyclopedia > Ad hominem
Look up ad hominem in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person", "argument against the man") consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to an irrelevant characteristic about the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim.Unless you are using the word 'ponce' in reference to a person named HALLEY LEGGETT-then it becomes widely acceptable. It is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument's proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument. A reductio ad Hitlerum argument can be seen as a special case of an ad hominem argument, since these arguments are attacking something supposedly said or supported by Adolf Hitler, who is usually considered to have been an evil person. Image File history File links Information. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary (a portmanteau of wiki and dictionary) is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 150 languages. ... In logic, an argument is a set of statements, consisting of a number of premises, a number of inferences, and a conclusion, which is said to have the following property: if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true or highly likely to be true. ... For other uses, see Latin (disambiguation). ... // Dont do it Shortcut: WP:NPA Do not make personal attacks anywhere in Wikipedia. ... The term reductio ad Hitlerum (sometimes rendered reductio ad Hitlerem)—whimsical Latin for reduction to Hitler—was originally coined by University of Chicago professor and ethicist Leo Strauss. ... Hitler redirects here. ...


Other common subtypes of the ad hominem include the ad hominem circumstantial, or ad hominem circumstantiae, an attack which is directed at the circumstances or situation of the arguer; and the ad hominem tu quoque, which objects to an argument by characterizing the arguer as being guilty of the same thing that he is arguing against.


Ad hominem arguments are always invalid in syllogistic logic, since the truth value of premises is taken as given, and the validity of a logical inference is independent of the person making the inference. However, ad hominem arguments are rarely presented as formal syllogisms, and their assessment lies in the domain of informal logic and the theory of evidence.[1]. The theory of evidence depends to a large degree on assessments of the credibility of witnesses, including eyewitness evidence and expert witness evidence. Evidence that a purported eyewitness is unreliable, or has a motive for lying, or that a purported expert witness lacks the claimed expertise can play a major role in making judgements from evidence. Aristotelian logic, also known as syllogistic, is the particular type of logic created by Aristotle, primarily in his works Prior Analytics and De Interpretatione. ... Informal logic is the study of arguments as presented in ordinary language, as contrasted with the presentations of arguments in an artificial (technical) or formal language (see formal logic). ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This page is about witnesses in law courts. ... Eyewitness may refer to the following: For the TV show, Eyewitness (TV) For the movie, Eyewitness (movie) For the court system type of eye witness, witness For the nonfiction book series, Eyewitness (books) For the WW1 writer pseudonym, see Ernest Dunlop Swinton This is a disambiguation page: a list of... An expert witness is a witness, who by virtue of education, profession, publication or experience, is believed to have special knowledge of his or her subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon his opinion. ...


Argument ad hominem is the converse of appeal to authority, in which the arguer bases the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge or position of the person asserting it. Hence, while an ad hominem argument may make an assertion less compelling, by showing that the person making the assertion does not have the authority, knowledge or position they claim, or has made mistaken assertions on similar topics in the past, it cannot provide an infallible counterargument. An appeal to authority or argument by authority is a type of argument in logic, consisting on basing the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge or position of the person asserting it. ...

Contents

Ad hominem as formal fallacy

A (fallacious) ad hominem argument has the basic form: In philosophy, a formal fallacy or a logical fallacy is a pattern of reasoning which is always wrong. ...

Person A makes claim X
There is something objectionable about Person A
Therefore claim X is false

Ad hominem is one of the best known of the logical fallacies usually enumerated in introductory logic and critical thinking textbooks. Both the fallacy itself, and accusations of having committed it, are often brandished in actual discourse (see also Argument from fallacy). As a technique of rhetoric, it is powerful and used often because of the natural inclination of the human brain to recognize patterns.[citation needed] Logic (from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle) is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration. ... are you kiddin ? i was lookin for it for hours ... The argument from fallacy, also known as argumentum ad logicam or fallacy fallacy, is a logical fallacy which assumes that if an argument is fallacious, its conclusion must be false. ... Rhetoric (from Greek , rhêtôr, orator, teacher) is generally understood to be the art or technique of persuasion through the use of spoken language; however, this definition of rhetoric has expanded greatly since rhetoric emerged as a field of study in universities. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...


In contrast, an argument that instead relies (fallaciously) on the positive aspects of the person arguing the case is known as appeal to authority. An appeal to authority or argument by authority is a type of argument in logic, consisting on basing the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge or position of the person asserting it. ...


Image:Eugenics ad hominem.jpg
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The first premise is called a 'factual claim' and is the pivot point of much debate. The contention is referred to as an 'inferential claim' and represents the reasoning process. There are two types of inferential claim, explicit and implicit. The fallacy does not represent a valid form of reasoning because even if you accept both co-premises, that does not guarantee the truthfulness of the contention. This can also be thought of as the argument having an un-stated co-premise. In discourse, a premise (also premiss in British usage) is a claim which is part of a reason or objection. ... In both formal and informal logic, a main contention is a thought which is capable of being either true or false and is usually the most controversial proposition being argued for. ... In logic, the form of an argument is valid precisely if it cannot lead from true premises to a false conclusion. ... A co-premise is a premise in reasoning and informal logic which is not the main supporting reason for a contention or a lemma, but is logically necessary to ensure the validity of an argument. ...




Image:Eugenics expanded ad hominem.jpg Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 146 pixelsFull resolution (904 × 165 pixel, file size: 36 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)‹ The template below (BadJPEG) has been proposed for deletion. ...


In this fleshed out example, the un-stated co-premise "everything that A claims is false" has been included, and the argument is therefore now a valid one. However in the ad hominem fallacy the un-stated co-premise is always false, thereby maintaining the fallacy. Note that this does not imply that the contention "eugenics is a bad idea" is false, merely un-supported by the pattern of reasoning below it. In informal logic, an inference objection is an objection to an argument based not on any of its stated premises, but rather on the relationship between premise and contention. ...


Usage

In logic

An ad hominem fallacy consists of asserting that someone's argument is wrong and/or he is wrong to argue at all purely because of something discreditable/not-authoritative about the person or those persons cited by him rather than addressing the soundness of the argument itself. The implication is that the person's argument and/or ability to argue correctly lacks authority. Merely insulting another person in the middle of otherwise rational discourse does not necessarily constitute an ad hominem fallacy (though it is not usually regarded as acceptable). It must be clear that the purpose of the characterization is to discredit the person offering the argument, and, specifically, to invite others to discount his arguments. In the past, the term ad hominem was sometimes used more literally, to describe an argument that was based on an individual, or to describe any personal attack. However, this is not how the meaning of the term is typically introduced in modern logic and rhetoric textbooks, and logicians and rhetoricians are in agreement that this use is incorrect.[2]


Example:

"You claim that this man is innocent, but you cannot be trusted since you are a criminal as well."

This argument would generally be accepted as reasonable, as regards personal evidence, on the premise that criminals are likely to lie to protect each other. On the other hand, it is an invalid example of ad hominem if the person making the claim is doing so on the basis of evidence independent of their own credibility.


In general, ad hominem criticism of evidence cannot prove the negative of the proposition being claimed:


Example:

"Paula says the umpire made the correct call, but this can't be true, because Paula was doing more important things than watching the game."

Assuming the premise is correct, Paula's evidence is valueless, but the umpire may nonetheless have made the right call.


Colloquially

In common language, any personal attack, regardless of whether it is part of an argument, is often referred to as ad hominem.[3]


Subtypes

Three traditionally identified varieties are ad hominem abusive or ad personam, ad hominem circumstantial, and ad hominem tu quoque.


Ad hominem abusive or ad personam

Ad hominem abusive (also called argumentum ad personam) usually and most notoriously involves insulting or belittling one's opponent, but can also involve pointing out factual but ostensibly damning character flaws or actions which are irrelevant to the opponent's argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent's personal character have nothing to do with the logical merits of the opponent's arguments or assertions. This tactic is frequently employed as a propaganda tool among politicians who are attempting to influence the voter base in their favor through an appeal to emotion rather than by logical means, especially when their own position is logically weaker than their opponent's. An insult is a statement or action which affronts or demeans someone. ... For other uses, see Propaganda (disambiguation). ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A politician is an individual who is a formally recognized and active member of a government, or a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics. ... Appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy wherein the arguer (who is using this fallacy) takes advantage of emotion to prove his or her argument. ...


Examples:

  • "You can't believe Jack when he says there isn't any God because he doesn't even have a job."
  • "Charles Manson wrote this song, so it must be unlistenable".
  • "Candidate Jane Jones' proposal X is ridiculous. She was caught cheating on her taxes in 2003."

Charles Milles Manson (born November 12, 1934) was the leader of what came to be known as the Manson Family, a commune that is often termed a cult and that began to form around him in the U.S. city of San Francisco in 1967. ...

Ad hominem circumstantial

Ad hominem circumstantial involves pointing out that someone is in circumstances such that he is disposed to take a particular position. Essentially, ad hominem circumstantial constitutes an attack on the bias of a person. The reason that this is fallacious in syllogistic logic is that pointing out that one's opponent is disposed to make a certain argument does not make the argument, from a logical point of view, any less credible; this overlaps with the genetic fallacy (an argument that a claim is incorrect due to its source). It also fails to assess ideas on their merits. ...


On the other hand, where the person taking a position seeks to convince us by a claim of authority, or personal observation, observation of their circumstances may reduce the evidentiary weight of the claims, sometimes to zero.[4]



This fallacy is essentially the same as bulverism, a term coined by C. S. Lewis. Bulverism is a logical fallacy coined by C. S. Lewis where rather than proving that an argument is wrong, a person instead assumes it wrong, and then goes on to explain why the other person held that argument. ... Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963), commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis, was an Irish author and scholar. ...


Examples:

"Tobacco company representatives are wrong when they say smoking doesn't seriously affect your health, because they're just defending their own multi-million-dollar financial interests."
"He's physically addicted to nicotine. Of course he defends smoking!”

Of course, such statements could also be reworded to avoid the logical fallacy:

"Tobacco company representatives may be biased when they say smoking doesn't seriously affect your health, because of their own multi-million-dollar financial interests. Thus, such statements may be wishful thinking, or even outright lies, on their part."
"He's physically addicted to nicotine. Therefore, his defense of smoking may be biased.”

In the following example Jennifer's comment is an ad hominem circumstantial attack against Chris's statement:

Chris: "Women should be able to be topless everywhere men can be."
Jennifer: "You're just saying that because you want to see women's breasts."

The Mandy Rice-Davies ploy, "Well, he would [say that], wouldn't he?" is an example of a valid circumstantial argument. Her point is that since a man in a prominent position, accused of an affair with a callgirl, would deny the claim whether it was true or false, his denial carries no evidentiary weight. (In the case in question, the denial was apparently false). Mandy Rice-Davies, born October 1, 1944, is famous mainly for her minor role in the Profumo affair which discredited the Conservative government of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1963. ...


Ad hominem tu quoque

Main article: tu quoque

Ad hominem tu quoque refers to an irrelevant accusation of hypocrisy. Accusations of hypocrisy are inadmissible in legal and scientific debate, and can be distractions from the business of politics. That is, it is not relevant to the credibility of a didactic argument whether its presenter has trod over the principle he espouses. For example, a corrupt lawyer who prosecutes embezzlers may be behaving hypocritically, but this does not weaken the evidence he presents against the accused embezzlers. (This is true unless there is reason to believe that the evidence may have been fabricated, and to believe that hypocrites are more likely to present fabricated evidence). An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally argument to the man), is 1) a logical fallacy that involves replying to an argument or assertion by addressing the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself; 2) an argument pointing out an inconsistency... An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally argument to the man), is 1) a logical fallacy that involves replying to an argument or assertion by addressing the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself; 2) an argument pointing out an inconsistency...


Guilt by Association

Main article: Association fallacy

Guilt by association can sometimes also be a type of ad hominem fallacy, if the argument attacks a person because of the similarity between the views of someone making an argument and other proponents of the argument. An association fallacy is a type of logical fallacy which asserts that qualities of one are inherently qualities of another, merely by association. ...


This form of the argument is as follows:

A makes claim P.
Bs also make claim P.
Therefore, A is a B.

Example:

"You say the gap between the rich and poor is unacceptable, but communists also say this, therefore you are a communist"

This fallacy can also take another form: This article is about communism as a form of society, as an ideology advocating that form of society, and as a popular movement. ...

A makes claim P.
Bs make claims P and Q
Therefore, A makes claim Q.

Examples:

"You say the gap between the rich and poor is unacceptable, but communists also say this, and they believe in revolution. Thus, you believe in revolution."

A similar tactic may be employed to encourage someone to renounce an opinion, or force them to choose between renouncing an opinion or admitting membership in a group. For example: This article is about communism as a form of society, as an ideology advocating that form of society, and as a popular movement. ...


"You say the gap between the rich and poor is unacceptable. You don't really mean that, do you? communists say the same thing. You're not a communist, are you?"


Guilt by association may be combined with Ad hominem abusive. For example:


"You say the gap between the rich and poor is unacceptable, but communists also say this, and therefore you are a communist. Communists are unlikeable, and therefore everything they say is false, and therefore everything you say is false."


Taxonomy

The argumentum ad hominem is a genetic fallacy and red herring, and is often (but not necessarily) an appeal to emotion. Argumentum ad hominem includes poisoning the well. It also fails to assess ideas on their merits. ... Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion) is the logical fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but which proves or supports a different proposition than the one it is purporting to prove or support. ... Appeal to emotion is a logical fallacy wherein the arguer (who is using this fallacy) takes advantage of emotion to prove his or her argument. ... Poisoning the well is a logical fallacy where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say. ...


See also

Ad feminam and Argumentum ad feminam are terms mistakenly coined, due to a misunderstanding of Latin, as the female counterparts to (Argumentum) ad hominem. ... And you are lynching Negroes (Russian: А у вас негров линчуют, Serbian (Cyrillic alphabet): А што ви бијете црнце?, Serbian (Latin alphabet), Croatian: A što vi bijete crnce?, Polish: A u was biją Murzynów, Czech: A u vás zase lynčují černochy, Hungarian: Amerikában pedig verik a négereket (Literally, And in America, they are beating up... An association fallacy is a type of logical fallacy which asserts that qualities of one are inherently qualities of another, merely by association. ... Fair Game is a status assigned to those whom the Church of Scientology has officially declared to be Suppressive Persons or Suppressive Persons are those whose actions are deemed to suppress or damage Scientology or a Scientologist. ... In attribution theory, the fundamental attribution error (also known as correspondence bias or overattribution effect and frequently confused with the actor-observer bias) is the tendency for people to over-emphasize dispositional, or personality-based, explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational... Shooting the messenger is a phrase describing the act of lashing out at the (blameless) bearer of bad news. ...

References

  1. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1996). Example: Ad Hominem (English). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved on September 10, 2007.
  2. ^ Swift (2007). Syvia Browne on the Ropes (English). Swift - Weekly Newsletter of the James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved on September 10, 2007.
  3. ^ Bartleby.com (2007). ad hominem (English). Bartleby.com. Retrieved on September 10, 2007.
  4. ^ fallacyfiles.org (2007). Argumentum ad Hominem (English). fallacyfiles.org. Retrieved on September 10, 2007.

Sources

  • Hurley, Patrick (2000). A Concise Introduction to Logic, Seventh Edition. Wadsworth, a division of Thompson Learning, 125-128, 182. ISBN 0534520065. 
  • Copi, Irving M. and Cohen, Carl. Introduction to Logic (8th Ed.), p. 97-100.

Patrick Hurley at center (in bow tie) with Communist leadership in Yanan, 1945 Patrick Jay Hurley (January 8, 1883, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory — July 30, 1963, Santa Fe, NM) was an American soldier, statesman, and diplomat. ... Wadsworth is the name of several places in the United States of America: Wadsworth, Illinois Wadsworth, Nevada Wadsworth, Ohio This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Ad hominem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1321 words)
Ad hominem is one of the best-known of the logical fallacies usually enumerated in introductory logic and critical thinking textbooks.
Ad hominem is fallacious when applied to deduction, and not the evidence (or premise) of an argument.
Ad hominem circumstantial involves pointing out that someone is in circumstances such that he is disposed to take a particular position.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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