Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ad hominem

The phrase "ad hominem" means, "to the man." In logic it refers to an informal fallacy where the person giving the argument is attacked instead of the argument itself. It is designed to deflect attention away from the weakness of the attacker's position or the strength of the defender's. This is common in politics, and is not always without merit.

If an environmentalist candidate flies exclusively in private jets, it is right to point out this hypocrisy, but hypocrisy doesn't affect the truth or falsity of his positions on global warming or other issues. Further, too often in politics and religion ad hominem attacks are used in lieu of valid reasoning skills.

For can you trust a draft-dodger's views on foreign policy? .... How can you believe in that religion with so many bad people leading it? ... That politician sleeps around and he wants to tell me what to do with my body? ... that man opposes gay marriage just because he's a homophobe...that person supports that bill because she's racist...

And so on. All of the above statements attack the person and not the idea. They may help us feel better but not think better.
posted from Bloggeroid

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