Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ad Hominem

Ad hominem: Short for: argumentum ad hominem; The most popular of a long list of Latin terms for logical fallacies or non-rational arguments, Ad hominem refers to the debate technique where one speaker attacks the other, instead of refuting their argument. The basic structure is: She is an objectionable person, therefore everything she says is wrong. It is Latin for: argue with the person. Other examples are:

argumentum ad baculinum
- argue with a stick - use of threats to win an argument.

argumentum ad captandum
- argue with the herd - appeals to the crowd to win an argument.

argumentum ad crumenam
- argue with a purse - asserting that the speaker's wealth makes them right.

argumentum ad ignorantiam -
argue with ignorance - since we don't know something is false, it must be true (e.g. UFOs).

argumentum ad lazarum
- argue with poverty - asserting that the speaker's poverty makes them right.
Eighteenth-century critics, unconstrained by libel laws, could be savage in their ad hominem attacks.
A Book for Today: Samuel Johnson by Jeffrey Meyers

No comments: