My Study Stuff

01/11/2011

ad hominem

Filed under: Logic — anlactunay @ 2:15 PM

ad hominem=
You commit this fallacy if you make an irrelevant attack on the arguer and suggest that this attack undermines the argument itself. It is a form of the Genetic Fallacy.
Example:
What she says about Johannes Kepler’s astronomy of the 1600′s must be just so much garbage. Do you realize she’s only fourteen years old?

This attack may undermine the arguer’s credibility as a scientific authority, but it does not undermine her reasoning. That reasoning should stand or fall on the scientific evidence, not on the arguer’s age or anything else about her personally.

If the fallacious reasoner points out irrelevant circumstances that the reasoner is in, the fallacy is a circumstantial ad hominem. Tu Quoque and Two Wrongs Make a Right are other types of the ad hominem fallacy.

The major difficulty with labeling a piece of reasoning as an ad hominem fallacy is deciding whether the personal attack is relevant. For example, attacks on a person for their actually immoral sexual conduct are irrelevant to the quality of their mathematical reasoning, but they are relevant to arguments promoting the person for a leadership position in the church. Unfortunately, many attacks are not so easy to classify, such as an attack pointing out that the candidate for church leadership, while in the tenth grade, intentionally tripped a fellow student and broke his collar bone.

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