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Ad Hominem

CONTENTS

Zen & Understanding the Middle East

Introduction
Sellers' Market
Will to Believe
Rules of Thumb

"The truth is out there "
Use & misuse of words
False information signals more false information
Technical whiz-bang
Understand the Context
Lies, More Lies, Damn Lies and Newspapers
Beware of Generalizations
Theology and scripture
Misleading Statistics
Smoke in your eyes
What is Missing?
Myth versus fact versus narrative
The past was not like the present; the future will be different

Fallacy Recognition in the Middle East

Fallacies and Arguments
Cause and Effect
Slippery Slope
Gambler's Fallacy
Ad Hominem
Authority
Beliefs
Appeal to Novelty
Appeal to Emotion
Appeal to Tradition
False Dilemma or Black and White Thinking
Special Pleading
The Spotlight Fallacy
Who is to Say?

Fallacy Handbook

Ad Hominem

Reference: Ad Hominem Ad Hominem Tu Quoque  Circumstantial Ad Hominem Genetic Fallacy  Personal Attack

Ad hominem arguments depend on delegitimizing the person who is advancing the counter-argument. Of course, who or where the information is coming from has some weight, based on inductive reasoning. If Joe is known to have no memory for history, he should probably not be believed immediately if he tells you something about history, but that does not mean his information should always be ignored. Even the little boy who cried wolf was finally telling the truth.

Ad hominem - Ad hominem attacks or arguments are based on the premise that the argument is wrong because the person advancing it is discredited. Often, they are introduced at a stage where logic is no longer relevant, and are just expressive of emotion, and cannot be distinguished from Personal Attack.  Ad hominem attacks are usually the resort of those who have lost the argument. They have no arguments left, so they discredit you as a "Zionist," "reactionary" "Nazi" etc. If they had not lost the argument before they made these rude claims, they should fairly be considered to have lost it after they engaged in ad hominem attacks.

Ad Hominem Tu Quoque - Just because an expert doesn't follow their own rules, doesn't mean the rules are wrong. Just because your doctor smokes, that doesn't mean he is lying about the dangers of smoking. However, while this may apply to matters of fact, it is hard to see how it can be applied to moral judgements or legal judgements that are supposed to be applicable to everyone equally.

Circumstantial Ad Hominem - This is disqualifying an argument because the person presenting it has a vested interest in one side. "You are just saying it is so because you are a man," "You are just saying it is so because you are a Zionist." Of course one should always consider the source, but you cannot discount a report just because it appears in a newspaper of the "wrong" side, or comes from a person who is on the "wrong" side in the conflict.

Genetic Fallacy - A claim that the idea is wrong because the origin of the idea is wrong, similar to Ad Hominem arguments. Examples relevant to the Middle East: The Mufti of Jerusalem claimed rights for the Arabs of Palestine, but the Mufti was a Nazi, therefore the claim is invalid. Evangelical Christians support the state of Israel. We don't agree with their views in other matters, so Christian support of Israel must be wrong.

Previous: Gambler's Fallacy Next: Authority


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