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Ad Hominem


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I still disagree. The terms personal attack and ad hominem are synonyms. Don't you recall how the text defines these terms? It states

 

(Italics are mine) There is nothing in the definition that says that the attack has to be a substitute for the response.

 

Let's take a look at some examples of ad hominems from Wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

 

"Candidate Jane's proposal about zoning is ridiculous. She was caught cheating on her taxes in 2003."

 

"What makes you so smart and all-knowing to deny God's existence? You haven't even finished school."

 

See how the attack has absolutely nothing to do with the topic?

 

Yes. And in each example, there is no other argument provided. Your definition says Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument. Your example shows someone attacking you in addition to your argument. The circumstance is not the one which is described by the definition. The attack was not in place of an argument.

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Yes. And in each example, there is no other argument provided. Your definition says Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument. Your example shows someone attacking you in addition to your argument.

The opponent never addresssed the arguement. Even if he did part of his response was still an ad hominem.

 

Time to agree to disagree swansont! :)

Edited by pmb
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Of course ******* is using ad Hominems. It's quite clear... the definition of an ad hominem is

 

'' is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it.''

 

Now lets just look at pmb's responses. He was trying to help ******* where he was quite obviously wrong. Now, where was ******* pointing out a negative characteristic?

 

''quote_icon.png Originally Posted by ******** viewpost-right.pngever since you re-joined this forum you have seemed eager to prove me wrong every time I opened my mouth .''

That is clearly an ad hominem, on the basis that he is attempting to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic. Clearly.

Edited by hypervalent_iodine
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Of course *&( is using ad Hominems.

Aethelwulf - Up until this point no names have been used. I didn't want this to be an attack on a person who isn't here to defend themsleves. That would be bringing a fight from that forum to this forum and that's the furthest thing fro my mind. CAn you do me a favor? Please edit your post and delete that name. Thank you.

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The opponent never addresssed the arguement. Even if he did part of his response was still an ad hominem.

 

Time to agree to disagree swansont! :)

 

I don't understand. What were the first five items in the list you quoted?

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I don't understand. What were the first five items in the list you quoted?

 

Swan, I see where you're coming from, but I disagree specifically because the observation was included in the list of refutations. Had the observation been set apart, in it's own paragraph, I'd be more inclined to your point of view, but as it is written (intended by the other person or not), it comes off to me as if they are including that in the refutation of the argument, speaking to PMB's reasons for attempting to refute the argument in the first place.

 

Again, that's just my opinion - take it for what it's worth.

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I don't understand. What were the first five items in the list you quoted?

They were about the other things in the thread he got right. He was posting them to say something like "See? I got all these other things right so leave me alone."

I'll PM the URL to you so that you can see the actual conversation so that you can see the context.

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Who cares. *******'s comments where an ad hominem. Saying it wasn't is absurd.

 

The definition quoted by pmb:

 

Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument, we commit a form of the fallacy known as the personal attack. Historically, this fallacy has been known a argumentum ad hominem, or ad homenim for short.

 

IOW, the fallacy has two parts: a personal attack, and the attack is instead of addressing the argument. A personal attack is a necessary but insufficient condition.

 

——

 

And now that pmb has provided the link to me and I see the context, it's even clearer that this is not an ad hominem. The person in question started that thread, and this is simply a culmination of asking why you were nit-picking on peripheral subjects. There was some rudeness along the way and you can fault him for that, but it looks to me like you got bogged down in minutia about a mistaken vector sign, and a few other things. He asked a question, and you start interrogating him and making him defend the very subject he's asking about. There was some poor communication all around. Short version is "I asked about X, and you're grilling me on Y. What gives?"

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And now that pmb has provided the link to me and I see the context, it's even clearer that this is not an ad hominem.

I disagree of course. He attacked me plain and simple rather than either dropping the subject or reasoning it out. That's an ad hominem plain and simple.

 

The person in question started that thread, and this is simply a culmination of asking why you were nit-picking on peripheral subjects.

Nit picking? Ummm .. so what? Telling someone that a particle with rest mass can't go the speed of light and that's why E = mc^2 = mv^2 is wrong isn't doing something wrong in my opion. I was merely makikng a tiny correction. It was never meant to be more than me pointing out a teeny tiny error. He magnified it into something much much more than it should have been.

 

There was some rudeness along the way and you can fault him for that, ...

Yeah. He's well known for that. He even told me that he chooses to be "harsh" (in his words).

 

but it looks to me like you got bogged down in minutia about a mistaken vector sign, and a few other things.

Its a discussion forum. We discuss physics over there. That includes correcing something that is wrong when we see it. There was nothing "bogged down" in that.

 

He asked a question, and you start interrogating him and making him defend the very subject he's asking about.

I believe that you're exagerating now.

 

Here's what happened. He asked about operators. At a point he wrote

Looking again in my chemistry text, I follow the de Broglie conjecture that [tex]E = h \nu = mc^2=mv^2 ...

This is wrong so I told him it was wrong. He made a small error in notion so I pointed that out to him. He tried to divide a scalar by a vector and suggested he made a mistake. Later on in the thread I figured out how he made that error with mc^2=mv^2 so I pointed it out to him. That's when he got all whiny. There's really nothing more to it than that.

 

There was some poor communication all around. Short version is "I asked bout X, and you're grilling me on Y. What gives?"

He posted an equation which looked bizzare to me. I corrected it. There's nothing more to it than that.

 

I'l provide the link to the thread to anyone else who wants to read it. I really didn't want to discuss the subject of that thread. I was only curious about the ad hominem. The moderator there was so adamant that it wasn't an ad hominem that I decided to keep an open mind and get an unbiased opinion on the subject. Hence the purpose of this thread.

Edited by pmb
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sorry of O/T

 

An elision of meaning?

 

Thank for for prompting me to look up a new work I cannot recall meeting before.

 

However my OED makes this use mystifying to me.

 

"it's avoiding an elision of meaning that you are arguing is going on in the present."

"it's avoiding an omission of meaning that you are arguing is going on in the present."

 

It was argued that ad hominem is defined as insulting language in the context of an argument - I claim that this is the deliberate omission of an important section of the phrases meaning; I was using the word elision to show that I was not calling for a return to an out of date usage but merely that we should stop removing the suble difference between words. The example from merriom-webster is the exact same notion that I was aiming for.

 

I used elision because, as the wikipedia quote explains, an elision is often made (in the simpler sense of a dropped letter or syllable) to make the word easier to say; I though this was a nice parallel to the argument of either defining ad hominem in an easier but less subtle manner versus defining it in a difficult, perhaps counterintuitive, but much richer and deeper way.

 

1 a : the use of a speech form that lacks a final or initial sound which a variant speech form has (as 's instead of is in there's) b : the omission of an unstressed vowel or syllable in a verse to achieve a uniform metrical pattern

2 : the act or an instance of omitting something : omission

Examples of ELISION

  1. <unfortunately, when the book was condensed, some of the elisions rendered major plot developments incomprehensible>

http://www.merriam-w...tionary/elision

 

elision (plural elisions)

 

  1. The deliberate omission of something.
  2. The omission of a letter or syllable between two words; sometimes marked with an apostrophe.

 

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/elision

 

Elision is the omission of one or more sounds (such as a vowel, a consonant, or a whole syllable) in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elision
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I disagree of course. He attacked me plain and simple rather than either dropping the subject or reasoning it out. That's an ad hominem plain and simple.

 

You could also have dropped the subject, but didn't.

 

Nit picking? Ummm .. so what? Telling someone that a particle with rest mass can't go the speed of light and that's why E = mc^2 = mv^2 is wrong isn't doing something wrong in my opion. I was merely makikng a tiny correction. It was never meant to be more than me pointing out a teeny tiny error. He magnified it into something much much more than it should have been.

 

He said he copied that from a textbook, but you took the stance of making him defend it.

 

One problem with fora is that the size of the correction is not automatically apparent. They can all look big. Take the remark that has you spun up: he prefaced it by saying it was a small thing, but you aren't treating it as a small thing.

 

 

Its a discussion forum. We discuss physics over there. That includes correcing something that is wrong when we see it. There was nothing "bogged down" in that.

 

 

I believe that you're exagerating now.

 

Here's what happened. He asked about operators. At a point he wrote

 

This is wrong so I told him it was wrong. He made a small error in notion so I pointed that out to him. He tried to divide a scalar by a vector and suggested he made a mistake. Later on in the thread I figured out how he made that error with mc^2=mv^2 so I pointed it out to him. That's when he got all whiny. There's really nothing more to it than that.

 

 

He posted an equation which looked bizzare to me. I corrected it. There's nothing more to it than that.

 

Your perspective might not be the same as that of others. To someone asking a question, being interrogated on matters other than that question could be quite exasperating.

 

 

I'l provide the link to the thread to anyone else who wants to read it. I really didn't want to discuss the subject of that thread. I was only curious about the ad hominem. The moderator there was so adamant that it wasn't an ad hominem that I decided to keep an open mind and get an unbiased opinion on the subject. Hence the purpose of this thread.

 

And you quick to challenge anyone who says that it wasn't. Your premise that all insults are ad hominem is clearly wrong from the definition you provided, and as I (and others) indicated earlier.

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I've never spoke of insults on this topic so I don't know where you got that from.

 

Anyway, this thread has served its purpose fo me and confirmed that it was an ad hominem. Thank all of you for your opinion. Especially Aethelwulf. :)

Edited by pmb
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I've never spoke of insults on this topic so I don't know where you got that from.

 

I guess I got it from this post

 

I still disagree. The terms personal attack and ad hominem are synonyms.

 

So I will rephrase: The terms personal attack and ad hominem are not synonyms, which should be clear from the definition you provided. ad hominem carries with it an additional requirement about how the personal attack is carried out.

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To support what many others have said, here is a helpful link.

 

The mere presence of a personal attack does not indicate ad hominem: the attack must be used for the purpose of undermining the argument, or otherwise the logical fallacy isn't there. It is not a logical fallacy to attack someone; the fallacy comes from assuming that a personal attack is also necessarily an attack on that person's arguments.

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To support what many others have said, here is a helpful link.

I disagree with that quote. Did you take a look at that website?

==> The author seems a bit freeky! <=== ad hominem :D

 

The text I have, which I take as authoritative on this issue, defines ad hominem as a synonym for personal attack. As the text states

Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument, we commit a form of the fallacy known as personal attack. Historically, this fallacy has been known as argumentum ad hominem. or an ad hominem for short.

 

Short version personal attack is historically known as ad hominem.

 

It should be noted that "personal attack" isn't just someone attacking a persons character. It has to be an attack on the person instead of their argument.

Edited by pmb
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I guess I got it from this post

That post says nothing about insults. I don't talk about insults in forums.

 

So I will rephrase: The terms personal attack and ad hominem are not synonyms, which should be clear from the definition you provided.

That I provided? Here is what I provided. The text states

Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument, we commit a form of the fallacy known as personal attack. Historically, this fallacy has been known as argumentum ad hominem. or an ad hominem for short.

Short version: A personal attack is historically known as ad hominem.

 

It's been historically misused and falsely applied by a great number of online

How do they misuse it? Can you give me a couple of examples?

Edited by pmb
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Sure. Like when they conflate a mere insult with an ad hom argument.

I gotcha. I bet that's why that straw argument about insults kept comming up. I.e. I think people thought I was confusing insults with ad hominems, when I never was. I guess they're so used to seeing it that it may have been a knee jerk reaction to the topic. It was very strange since I never mentioned insults in this thread and I have no recollection about talking about insults in any other threads. People are always claiming that what they write isn't an insult so I never accuse anyone of making one, even when its overly obvious.

 

Thanks iNow!

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That post says nothing about insults. I don't talk about insults in forums.

 

Right. Because insults and personal attacks in no way have any overlap in meaning.

 

That I provided? Here is what I provided. The text states

 

 

 

Short version: A personal attack is historically known as ad hominem.

 

That's only the short version if you ignore the qualifying statement . "Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument" Ad hominem must have that second element: the personal attack must be at the expense of addressing the argument. IOW, ad hominem is a subset of personal attacks.

 

In post #3 you agreed that "An ad hominem doesn't argue a point." It's quite clear that your adversary was arguing a point.

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Right. Because insults and personal attacks in no way have any overlap in meaning.

 

 

 

That's only the short version if you ignore the qualifying statement . "Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument" Ad hominem must have that second element: the personal attack must be at the expense of addressing the argument. IOW, ad hominem is a subset of personal attacks.

 

In post #3 you agreed that "An ad hominem doesn't argue a point." It's quite clear that your adversary was arguing a point.

He never argued a point. What he did was to explain something that had nothing to do with my comment. One has to be cautious not to confuse an explaination with an arguement. All he did was to explain that the purpose of his post was fulfilled. Only the later part said that I was "out to get him."

 

If he actually provided an argument it would have been an attempt to prove that a photon with non-zero rest mass could move at the speed c when in fact de Broglies photon (which he was talking about) had a nonzero rest mass and moved at speeds less than c. The opponent never made an attempt to prove that the photon with rest mass moved at speed c. If he did then things would be different.

 

Let us once again recall the text but this time tear it apart and analyze it piece by piece.

Read the text again

Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument, we commit a form of the fallacy known as the personal attack. Historically, this fallacy has been known a argumentum ad hominem, or ad homenim for short.

 

Now let's break it into pieces. The first part states

Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument, we commit a form of the fallacy known as the personal attack.

This sentance states that a personal attack is a fallacy which happens when one attacks the person rather than the argument.

 

The opponent, instead of arguing that v = c (1) explained why his posts served its purpose and (2) attacked me by essencially saying "you're out to get me".

 

#1 was an empty attempt to do anything since (a) I agree that it served its purpose and (2) didn't touch on the points on the comments he was responding to. There was absolutely no attempt to prove that v = c for photons with rest mass.

 

#2 was an attack on my character, thus making that statement a personal attack/ad hominem.

 

The second part states

Historically, this fallacy has been known a argumentum ad hominem, or ad homenim for short.

This sentance explains that the personal attack fallacy is a synonym for ad hominem.

 

This is why its quite clear to me and others that it's an ad hominem.

 

I just found a ".edu" web site on Logic. It describes an ad hominem too.

http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/person.html

Argumentum ad Hominem (abusive and circumstantial): the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the argument is characterized simply as a personal attack.

 

The personal attack is also often termed an "ad personem argument": the statement or argument at issue is dropped from consideration or is ignored, and the locutor's character or circumstances are used to influence opinion.

 

 

The fallacy draws its appeal from the technique of "getting personal." The assumption is that what the locutor is saying is entirely or partially dictated by his character or special circumstances and so should be disregarded.

The underlines are mine. This too explains that the terms personal attack and ad hominem are synonyms.

Edited by pmb
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He never argued a point. What he did was to explain something that had nothing to do with my comment. One has to be cautious not to confuse an explaination with an arguement. All he did was to explain that the purpose of his post was fulfilled. Only the later part said that I was "out to get him."

 

He went through five points of explaining what he was trying to get answered, and why he felt your comments were off the mark. As far as I can tell, the comment was never meant as a substitute for a response.

 

The underlines are mine. This too explains that the terms personal attack and ad hominem are synonyms.

 

Oh, for crying out loud. Once again, you've ignored the entire qualifying part of the definition. "attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument." is not identical to "attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument"

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Once again, you've ignored the entire qualifying part of the definition.

I didn't ingnore that at all. I did a detailed analysis in a previous post and you for all practical purposes ignored it. You mad no of my detailed analysis. You're merely repeating your claim now.

 

"attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement ..

Which is what the opponent did by claiming I was out to get them. That was an attack on my character.

 

..or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument." is not identical to "attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument"

The criteria of an ad hominem is Whenever we attack a person instead of his or her argument. I've explained, many times now, that the opponent, instead of addressing my assertion that v = c does not hold for partilces with non-zero rest mass, attacked my character by claiming I was out to get him. It's that simple and that's an ad hominem, by definition.

 

We are obviously not getting anywhere. I've already explained in detail how precisely that was an ad hominem and you don't address that, but address something that I've never said. At this piint I don't see that anything else I can say will resolve our differences so I must cease my contribution to this argument. We will simply have to agree to disagree.

Edited by pmb
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