Main Ad Hominem Discussion

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12:05:11 PM Apr 26th 2015
edited by DonaldthePotholer
Upon review, accusing someone of Crying Wolf is a species of this fallacy. But I'm not sure whether it is the "Direct" species or it's Poisoning The Well. I'm thinking if the prior instance (where the subject's proclamations were unfulfilled) is unrelated to the topic at hand, it's "Poisoning". EDIT: Never mind: Found the pothole to Crying Wolf in a discussion of a related matter in the Tu Quoque section.
03:42:59 PM Dec 6th 2013
If it's not imperative that both parties carry out the debate over a topic, and the person on one end (call them "Thing 1") is either a hypocrite, troll, can't spell/use grammar properly or all three, wouldn't it be at least understandable for the other party (a.k.a. "Thing 2") to just drop out of the debate because it's not worth fighting? This isn't to say they're calling Thing 1's points invalid, just that they don't care to continue the debate (and it's not unlikely Thing 2 has a hard time taking Thing 1 seriously). So in other words, if Thing 1 can't show sufficient evidence they aren't illiterate/just trying to provoke a response, Thing 2 just says "Screw This, I'm Outta Here!!"
05:16:55 PM Feb 7th 2017
Understandable, yes. But it's not logical to declare Thing 1's points false just because you don't want to talk to them anymore.
03:29:56 PM Dec 6th 2013
edited by
I understand why Ad Hominem is a logical fallacy; however, I think there are cases when people validly use this (or something that looks very much like it):

  • A house catches on fire. There's strong evidence this was due to arson. The neighbor of the family whose house burned down is a pyromaniac (diagnosed, not just a Michael Bay enthusiast). If this person insists they had no part in the house fire, would it be considered an ad hominem to A)make him suspect #1 and B)seriously doubt his claims to innocence?


  • "He wants to send us to concentration camps! We're heading for another Holocaust!"
"Ugh, I am so sick of you playing the Hitler Card!" *

I'm asking seriously, not trying to come off as a smartass here.
05:21:28 PM Aug 5th 2014
No to both. The ad hominem fallacy is saying that someone's wrong because of something about them. In the first case, you're not saying someone's argument is wrong-there isn't any. You're saying they're a likely suspect based on their past history. An ad hominem would be that person saying "Fire is beautiful" and his opponent countering "You would say that, you're a pyromaniac." In the second case, that's just a complaint. Only using "Hitler did it" as say, an argument against conservation would be a type of ad hominem.
11:46:10 AM Aug 4th 2010
I don't understand Evilest_Tim's edits. There is nothing fallacious about discrediting an encyclopedia; the idea that the accuracy of the encyclopedia as a whole gives no information about the reliability of a particular article is absurd. And I don't see how refusing to debate someone who is rude or unable to understand the subject at hand is a fallacy.
02:15:08 AM Oct 11th 2010
Um, yes there is. Re: the encyclopedia, it does not follow that some of the data being false means all of the data is false. The rebuttal attacks the source of the data, but does not actually address the truth or falsity of the data itself. This is fallacious because the data that is stated to be false is not the data being cited.

Claiming you have no need to debate someone because they are rude or ignorant is basing a decision on the behaviour of the debater, not on the content of their arguments. If they're ignorant, that can easily be demonstrated by showing how they are being ignorant. Just saying "you are ignorant, therefore I have no need to demonstrate how you are ignorant" is fallacious.
08:02:25 PM May 25th 2011
I don't think that's a very good illustration of an ad hominem at all. Describing the source of "data" cannot be an ad hominem by definition, because an ad hominem is a fallacious way of attacking a chain of logic, not a way of attacking a direct factual statement. Let me give a good example: if some encyclopedia says "Walruses tend to be monogamous," it is NOT an ad hominem if you say "This encyclopedia is frequently inaccurate, therefore this statement is not reliable." The reason for this is because the original statement is not a logical argument; it is merely an assertion of one specific factual detail, and it is not based on any logical connections from cited sources. An ad hominem only occurs if the statement's accuracy has nothing to do with its source; when a source makes a factual statement without referring to a logical process or some backing information, the only reason to consider the source to be correct about it is "because it said so." In THAT case, which is the case with encyclopedias that do not properly document their chains of logic or sources of facts, an attack on the credibility of the creator of the argument is logically relevant and therefore not an ad hominem.

Your example of the debate is also poorly explained. Refusing to debate someone because they are rude is legitimate because a debate that descends into mudslinging accomplishes pretty much nothing, regardless of the legitimacy of your opponent's point of view. Also, when you say your opponent has a tendency to be incorrect about a lot of things, it IS a legitimate argument when he claims factual details that you have to take his word for, because you are refuting his logical connection that states "______ is true, and you can take my word for it because I am credible." If you establish that he is not credible, it is not an ad hominem because you are addressing his argument.
09:41:48 PM May 25th 2011
Also, how is "he had it coming" an ad hominem? "He's an asshole, so his line of reasoning is wrong" is an ad hominem; "He's an asshole, so I shot him" is not.
04:43:23 AM Oct 15th 2011
It is not ad hominem to state that an encyclopedia is frequently inaccurate, therefore a statement in the encyclopedia is not reliable. It is, however, ad hominem to say that an argument is false because it cites an unreliable source. As for refusing to debate someone because they're rude, it says "throwing someone out for breaking rules of conduct is not fallacious, but throwing their arguments out on this basis certainly is."
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