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Ad Hominem Dismissing arguments by attacking the source (the person) giving the argument.

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Presentation on theme: "Ad Hominem Dismissing arguments by attacking the source (the person) giving the argument."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ad Hominem Dismissing arguments by attacking the source (the person) giving the argument.

2 Form of the Argument  Attacks the source of the argument (the arguer)  Says: because there are flaws in the source of the argument, therefore there are flaws in the argument itself.

3 Why this is a fallacy.  Focus should be on the argument.  Personal traits (Character) of the arguer generally irrelevant.

4 Types-Ad Hominem Fallacy  Personal-abusive  Bias-special interest  Inconsistency  Psychological  Inverse ad hominem

5 Ad Hominem Argument  Ad hominem argument-can be legitimate and cogent.  Example- Richard Nixon- misled people, lied and vindictive. Lionel has a bad temper, does not like children, and can’t think- should not be a teacher.

6 Ad Hominem-Argument  Some ad hominem attack are irrelevant- e.g. Lionel is unfit to teach because he is bow-legged and wears ugly socks.  Fallacy- Do not believe his argument because he is…

7 Abusive Against Personally attacks the person giving the argument.  Personally attacks the person giving the argument.  x says p, x is bad, therefore, don’t accept p.  Dr. Jones says that this plan for nuclear waste will not work, but we all know he is a womanizer and heavy drinker.

8 Why these are wrong.  Regardless of who the person is, whatever their position, or how bad a character they possess, they may have a well- reasoned argument and their conclusion may be justified.

9 Circumstantial- Bias  x says p, x is biased because of his circumstances, thus you can’t accept p. “ Louis says that this oil drilling will destroy the ecosystem in this area, but he is an environmentalist and thus this can’t be true.” “ Louis says that this oil drilling will destroy the ecosystem in this area, but he is an environmentalist and thus this can’t be true.”

10 Why this is a fallacy  Flaws in the source do not mean flaws in the argument- having a special interest does not make the argument unsound.  Do look more carefully at the argument

11 Advocacy-Testimony  Lawyer as advocate, but not testimony.-interest and no chance to challenge.  Cannot discredit advocate’s argument by ad hominem- this is a fallacy.

12 Testimony/Argument  Testimony within argument-p. 187  Critical- argument for profit- research, and statements.

13 Testimony/Argument  “Testimony is like an arrow shot from a long bow; the force of it depends on the strength of the hand that draws it. Argument is like an arrow from a crossbow, which has equal force though shot by a child.”

14 Ad Hominem Attack  Ad hominem attack on testimony proper.  Judge all info about past behavior, special interest, character of person testifying.

15 Inconsistency-Ad H  Accuses arguer of being inconsistent or hypocritical. Dr. Smith argues for global warming, but two years ago he said this was not the case. Dr. Smith argues for global warming, but two years ago he said this was not the case.

16 Where is the fallacy?  Says one is “speaking out of both sides of one’s mouth,” but one can change one’s mind with reason.

17 Hypocrites can argue  Doctor (with cigarette in hand) argues: “You should quit smoking. Evidence shows that long-term smoking damages the lungs and can lead to cancer. Second-hand smoke also damages the lungs of others in your family, especially the young children.”

18 Inconsistency Again  If between argument and actions-Fallacy.  If within argument- bad argument.  If testimony-then inconsistency relevant.

19 Psychological Ad H  Focuses on mental state of the arguer-implied sympathy.  You should dismiss Bert’s argument about banning whale hunting; it is all about his own guilt at being a rich boy.

20 Inverse Ad Hominem  Praise for the source of the argument is not relevant to the quality of the argument.  Horace is one of the kindest persons I know so his argument about hunting should be listened to.

21 Testimony Credibility  Testimony takes it’s strength entirely from its source.  Legitimate to ask about character, truthfulness, reliability, and motive for testimony (paid, incentives).

22 Questions to Pursue  Does the person have a history of lying, fraud and deceit?  Is the person delusional or paranoid?  Self-interest; payment.  Does witness have special interest or bias in the case?

23 Psychology-Testimony Psychological instability is relevant to the credibility of testimony.

24 Testimony & Praise  Good qualities are relevant for testimony  Being honest, truthful, principled, unbiased, and psychologically sound is relevant to testimony.

25 More Fallacies  Strawperson  Slippery Slope  False Dilemma  Golden Mean  Begging the Question

26 Straw Person (Man)  This tactic attempts to refute a position by oversimplifying or exaggerating their claims.  One weakens their argument or misrepresents their argument and then attacks this weakened version

27 Strawman Example  Mobil’s argument against those who favor “soft energy” (e.g. solar, wind, wood burning, etc).  They want to “get all our energy from firewood.”

28 Another Strawman  Buckley’s argument against “anti- handgun” fundamentalists.  They tell you even the presence of a loaded handgun means Mr. Finegan is going to get drunk and shoot the Mrs.

29 Important Questions  Is this the strongest view of the position?  Is this an accurate picture?  Principle of charity-Interpret opposing arguments as generously and fairly as possible.

30 Beard - Slippery Slope  This fallacy assumes that you cannot draw lines or distinctions- e.g. “when does one have a beard.” “If you give my husband an inch, he takes a yard. First it was a lawnmower, then a blower, then a weed-wacker. Soon there will be no room in the garage.” “If you give my husband an inch, he takes a yard. First it was a lawnmower, then a blower, then a weed-wacker. Soon there will be no room in the garage.”

31 Slippery Slope  Claims an innocent-looking step should not be taken because it will lead quickly to bad results.  Eg. If we put flourides in our water, then it will be in our tea, coffee, lemonade, bodies, and then there will be tranquillizers and other drugs.

32 Legitimate Slope  Must provide clear and good reasons for each step down the slope.  Give good reasons for why and how a particular action will lead to bad results.

33 Distracting Technique  Focus on “dire results” distracts us from real issue.  Burden of proof is on the person claiming that terrible consequences will follow-must offer good reasons for these claims.

34 Letting the camel in.  Assumes that if you let the camel’s nose into the tent, then the whole camel will follow.

35 False Dilemma  This poses a false choice.- “Either we pay the government or they pay us, so why work”  Either we ban all weapons or we will have all-out war.

36 Why this is a Fallacy.  This “Black or White” Fallacy assumes that there are always only two alternatives, but this usually is not true. “Life is neither black or white, but chocolate brown.” -Hegel “Life is neither black or white, but chocolate brown.” -Hegel

37 Convincing, but  Either the butler saw the defendant kill Lord Rutabaga or he is lying. But he is known for his honesty, thus.

38 Other possibilities  Given the problems of eye witness testimony, the butler could be genuinely mistaken.  Ask- “Are there other possibilities?”

39 Raising Fees Again  The state has decreased its funding to the university. This leaves us with a terrible choice. Either we must raise fees, or we have to close the library.

40 The Golden Mean  This assumes that the middle position, a compromise is always correct. This may well not be the case.  To allow second degree murder (no intent) for a poisoning is an odd compromise.

41 Always available mean  Can construct for any issue- weak or strong  Golden mean can support contradictory conclusions.  Is the mean a good argument?

42 Begging the question  This is an argument that hides its conclusion as a premise and thus does not really prove anything new.

43 Synonymous Begging  Disguises conclusion in premises by giving a synonymous form of it.  Socialism is not workable because an economic system in which the means of production are collectively owned cannot work.

44 Circular Begging  This is circular reasoning with the form:  P is true because Q is true and Q is true because P is true.

45 Begging the Question  “If men are to survive, they must be fit. Indeed, only the fittest survive. Look at those who have survived. They have because they are fit.”

46 Self-Sealing Argument  This is to win an argument by constant redefinition.  All women drivers are terrible- provide counterexample and he says “But she drives like a man.

47 Complex Question  An implied answer is contained in the question.  When did you stop beating your wife?

48 Loaded Question “Have you always loved to be last in the league?”

49 RECAP IDEAS Assess the argument, not the arguer. Things are not usually between two choices. Lines can be drawn, one need not slide down a slope. Lack of proof is no proof.

50 More summary ideas  The middle position is not automatically correct or good.  Repetition of the conclusion does not make it so.  Why ask, if you know.

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