My Study Stuff

05/11/2011

ad hominem

Filed under: Logic — anlactunay @ 10:01 PM

Abusive ad hominem

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.

Ad hominem fallacy
• is a very old fallacy;
• is often employed in politics;
• consists in an attack on the person rather than the views held by the person;
• can be illustrated with an example such as: ‘Candidate XYZ has no right to moralize about the family
since he cheats on his wife.i:

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.

genetic fallacy
A critic commits the genetic fallacy if the critic attempts to discredit or support a claim or an argument because of its origin (genesis) when such an appeal to origins is irrelevant.
Example:
Whatever your reasons are for buying that DVD they’ve got to be ridiculous. You said yourself that you got the idea for buying it from last night’s fortune cookie. Cookies can’t think!
Fortune cookies are not reliable sources of information about what DVD to buy, but the reasons the person is willing to give are likely to be quite relevant and should be listened to. The speaker is committing the genetic fallacy by paying too much attention to the genesis of the idea rather than to the reasons offered for it. An ad hominem fallacy is one kind of genetic fallacy, but the genetic fallacy in our passage isn’t an ad hominem.
If I learn that your plan for building the shopping center next to the Johnson estate originated with Johnson himself, who is likely to profit from the deal, then my pointing out to the planning commission the origin of the deal would be relevant in their assessing your plan. Because not all appeals to origins are irrelevant, it sometimes can be difficult to decide if the fallacy has been committed. For example, if Sigmund Freud shows that the genesis of a person’s belief in God is their desire for a strong father figure, then does it follow that their belief in God is misplaced, or does this reasoning commit the genetic fallacy?

Guilt by Association
Guilt by association is a version of the ad hominem fallacy in which a person is said to be guilty of error because of the group he or she associates with. The fallacy occurs when we unfairly try to change the issue to be about the speaker’s circumstances rather than about the speaker’s actual argument. Also called “Ad Hominem, Circumstantial.”
Example:
Secretary of State Dean Acheson is too soft on communism, as you can see by his inviting so many fuzzy-headed liberals to his White House cocktail parties.

Has any evidence been presented here that Acheson’s actions are inappropriate in regards to communism? This sort of reasoning is an example of McCarthyism, the technique of smearing liberal Democrats that was so effectively used by the late Senator Joe McCarthy in the early 1950s. In fact, Acheson was strongly anti-communist and the architect of President Truman’s firm policy of containing Soviet power.

Tu Quoque
The fallacy of tu quoque is committed if we conclude that someone’s argument not to perform some act must be faulty because the arguer himself or herself has performed it. Similarly, when we point out that the arguer doesn’t practice what he preaches, we may be therefore suppose that there must be an error in the preaching, but we are reasoning fallaciously and creating a tu quoque. This is a kind of ad hominem circumstantial fallacy.
Example:
Look who’s talking. You say I shouldn’t become an alcoholic because it will hurt me and my family, yet you yourself are an alcoholic, so your argument can’t be worth listening to.
Discovering that a speaker is a hypocrite is a reason to be suspicious of the speaker’s reasoning, but it is not a sufficient reason to discount it.
Two Wrongs Make a Right
When you defend your wrong action as being right because someone previously has acted wrongly, you commit the fallacy called “two wrongs make a right.” This is a kind of ad hominem fallacy.
Example:
Oops, no paper this morning. Somebody in our apartment building probably stole my newspaper. So, that makes it OK for me to steal one from my neighbor’s doormat while nobody else is out here in the hallway.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/
Tu quoque (“you too”). This is the fallacy of defending an error in one’s reasoning by pointing out that one’s opponent has made the same error. An error is still an error, regardless of how many people make it. For example, “They accuse us of making unjustified assertions. But they asserted a lot of things, too!” 
Although clearly fallacious, tu quoque arguments play an important role in debate because they may help establish who has done a better job of debating (setting aside the issue of whether the proposition is true or not). If both teams have engaged in ad hominem attacks, or both teams have made a few appeals to pity, then it would hardly be fair to penalize one team for it but not the other. In addition, it is not fallacious at all to point out that certain advantages or disadvantages may apply equally to both positions presented in a debate, and therefore they cannot provide a reason for favoring one position over the other (such disadvantages are referred to as “non-unique”). In general, using tu quoque statements is a good way to assure that judges make decisions based only on factors that distinguish between the two sides.
http://www.csun.edu/~dgw61315/fallacies.html

Ad Hominem
Translated from Latin to English, “Ad Hominem” means “against the man” or “against the person.” 
An Ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the author of or the person presenting the claim or argument. Typically, this fallacy involves two steps. First, an attack against the character of person making the claim, her circumstances, or her actions is made (or the character, circumstances, or actions of the person reporting the claim). Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument the person in question is making (or presenting). This type of “argument” has the following form: 

Person A makes claim X. 
Person B makes an attack on person A. 
Therefore A’s claim is false. 
The reason why an Ad Hominem (of any kind) is a fallacy is that the character, circumstances, or actions of a person do not (in most cases) have a bearing on the truth or falsity of the claim being made (or the quality of the argument being made). 

Example of Ad Hominem
Bill: “I believe that abortion is morally wrong.” 
Dave: “Of course you would say that, you’re a priest.” 
Bill: “What about the arguments I gave to support my position?” 
Dave: “Those don’t count. Like I said, you’re a priest, so you have to say that abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can’t believe what you say.”
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem.html
Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
Also Known as: “You Too Fallacy”
This fallacy is committed when it is concluded that a person’s claim is false because 1) it is inconsistent with something else a person has said or 2) what a person says is inconsistent with her actions. This type of “argument” has the following form:
Person A makes claim X.
Person B asserts that A’s actions or past claims are inconsistent with the truth of claim X.
Therefore X is false.
The fact that a person makes inconsistent claims does not make any particular claim he makes false (although of any pair of inconsistent claims only one can be true – but both can be false). Also, the fact that a person’s claims are not consistent with his actions might indicate that the person is a hypocrite but this does not prove his claims are false.
Examples of Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
Bill: “Smoking is very unhealthy and leads to all sorts of problems. So take my advice and never start.”
Jill: “Well, I certainly don’t want to get cancer.”
Bill: “I’m going to get a smoke. Want to join me Dave?”
Jill: “Well, I guess smoking can’t be that bad. After all, Bill smokes.”
Jill: “I think the gun control bill shouldn’t be supported because it won’t be effective and will waste money.”
Bill: “Well, just last month you supported the bill. So I guess you’re wrong now.”
Peter: “Based on the arguments I have presented, it is evident that it is morally wrong to use animals for food or clothing.”
Bill: “But you are wearing a leather jacket and you have a roast beef sandwich in your hand! How can you say that using animals for food and clothing is wrong!”
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/ad-hominem-tu-quoque.html

Advertisement

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: