Jump to content

Ad Hominem


Recommended Posts

Hmm. Ad hominem. (according to your definition)

You are very wrong. So wrong that I'm quite surprised by this response. Let us, for the sake of argument, say that it was an attack on you (which it really wasn't. It was an observation). It's not an ad hominem because its lacking that part instead of the arguement since I addressed your argument. And just because I observed that you seemed impatient it doesn't mean that its a personal attack. Are you telling me that Oh, for crying out loud. cannot be interpreted as you being impatient? And are you saying that when someone observes you being impatient and mentions it that you think its an attack? If yes then how so?

 

And I can just as well claim that your commentOh, for crying out loud is a attack on me because that kind of thing is only said to people when the person saying it is impatient and that its purpose was to insinuate that I'm "thick" in some way.

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are very wrong. So wrong that I'm quite surprised by this response. Let us, for the sake of argument, say that it was an attack on you (which it really wasn't. It was an observation).

 

 

So how is it that "you seem to be picking on me" (paraphrased) isn't an observation?

 

It's not an ad hominem because its lacking that part instead of the arguement since I addressed your argument. And just because I observed that you seemed impatient it doesn't mean that its a personal attack. Are you telling me that Oh, for crying out loud. cannot be interpreted as you being impatient? And are you saying that when someone observes you being impatient and mentions it that you think its an attack? If yes then how so?

 

You just got done telling me that any personal attack is ad hominem — that they are synonyms. Curious that now you are in a position where you need to defend your post that you switch to the interpretation I was advancing.

 

(For the record, I don't think it's an actual ad hom. But it is according to the interpretation you've been championing)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So how is it that "you seem to be picking on me" (paraphrased) isn't an observation?

Please don't put words into my mouth. The thought of "picking on me" never entered my mind. Btw, I made a mistake. Oh, for crying out loud is not an attack, its meant to show the emotion of either frustration, exasperation, or annoyance. See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/for_crying_out_loud.

Used to express frustration, exasperation, or annoyance

In any case I deleted that comment because I thought that it was unwarrented. Sometimes we all say things we regret later. I've decided to delete those things when I can so as to be as polite as I can. I imagine that's fine with you?

 

You just got done telling me that any personal attack is ad hominem — that they are synonyms.

That's correct. They are. And yo used it wronig. The only way I Can see to resolve any misunderstanding with the definition is to realize that a personal attack is not simply not an attack on a person. They are not the same thing. That's clear from the definition.

 

Note: I've already said I'm done with ad hominems so I won't adress them again with you. I believe that you and have already paved that road. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please don't put words into my mouth. The thought of "picking on me" never entered my mind. Btw, I made a mistake. Oh, for crying out loud is not an attack, its meant to show the emotion of either frustration, exasperation, or annoyance. See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/for_crying_out_loud.

 

I didn't. "you seem to be picking on me" (paraphrased) is not attributed to you, it's the supposed ad hom that you were orginially inquiring about. Why is that not simply an observation?

 

That's correct. They are. And yo used it wronig. The only way I Can see to resolve any misunderstanding with the definition is to realize that a personal attack is not simply not an attack on a person. They are not the same thing. That's clear from the definition.

 

Wait, what?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't. "you seem to be picking on me" (paraphrased) is not attributed to you, it's the supposed ad hom that you were orginially inquiring about. Why is that not simply an observation?

Sorry. I don't want to give more life to something which was merely an inquiry.

 

Wait, what?

Recall, again what a personal attack is

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

That's quite different than a simple attack on a person? An attack on a person need not have anything to do with a argument. It could just be anger at a person. You seem to be reading it literally where in fact its taken as a single term which has the above meaning.

 

For what it's worth i do not think it's an ad hominem attack, it seems to be in addition to, not instead of, an attack of the actual argument.

The actual argument was me explaining that a particle with rest mass can't travel at the speed of light. His character assasination never mentioned that argument. That's what makes it a personal attack aka ad hominem.

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The actual argument was me explaining that a particle with rest mass can't travel at the speed of light. His character assasination never mentioned that argument. That's what makes it a personal attack aka ad hominem.

 

Perhaps: not understanding physics i couldn't comment on whether the first five responses he made were actually arguing the point, but at least it appears he is attempting to do so. If they do address the argument, or some tendril of the main argument then it is not ad hominem. If the first five responses were simply obfuscation then i would agree it is ad hominem. I am unable to tell which is the case.

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps: not understanding physics i couldn't comment on whether the first five responses he made were actually arguing the point, but at least it appears he is attempting to do so.

No. The first five responses were explaining why his thread served its purpose without the part that I told him was wrong. Those responses had absolutely nothing to do with my argument.

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In your opening post you are concerned that another poster on another forum said "you seemed to be attacking him". This, you assert, was an ad hominem. He gave you his impression of what you appeared to be doing. He made no absolute declaration.

 

A few posts back you declare that swansont "is impatient". you don't say he seems impatient or appears to be impatient. You are absolutely convionced: he is impatient. Impatience is generally seen as a negative quality. You are attacking his character. But this is not an ad hominem, you say. I agree, but it sure as hell is an attack, which your first example is not.

 

Now to the heart of the matter: have you considered just taking a step back and appearing to behave like a mature human being?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In your opening post you are concerned that another poster on another forum said "you seemed to be attacking him".

That's not quite right. I wasn' concerned about his actions. That was taken care of in the other forum. I asked the following question

I'd like a second opinion on something I was faced with elsewhere.

and after presenting the example I inquired

Would you say that this is an ad hominem?

...

What do you do when you get an ad hominem reply?

And that is the essenf this thread. And I've been nothing except very polite' date=' reasonalble and logical in all my reponses and inquiries.

 

The example is completely anonymous. Both the name of the person and the name of the forum is kept a secret so as to esure that this doesn't get at all personal. In fact when someone, who also frequents that forum, mentioned his name I promptly asked then to delete the name from their post, and then were kind enough to do so. This is [i']purely[/i] an intellectual exercise.

 

you assert, was an ad hominem.

That's correct. But to be precise, he said

ever since you re-joined this forum you have seemed eager to prove me wrong every time I opened my mouth.

or in short You're out to get me. To me, when someone says You're out to get me its an attack on my character. His response had nothing to due with my original argument, i.e. him that a particle with rest mass can't move at the speed of light.

 

In the course of this discussion I gained a precise knowledge of what an ad hominem is and as such I now know that it was a personal attack aka ad hominem.

 

A few posts back you declare that swansont "is impatient".

I quickly deleted that comment so I will not discuss it. I later said that I his comment expresses frustration since the purpose of the comment Oh, for crying out loud. is to express frustration. I even looked it up just to make sure. And I gave that link - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/for_crying_out_loud

 

you don't say he seems impatient or appears to be impatient. You are absolutely convionced: he is impatient.

Its not a subjecctive comment but an objective one.

 

Impatience is generally seen as a negative quality. You are attacking his character.

Nope. Its not an attack when there's no question that its frustration. swansont will probanbly agree that he was frustrated, hence his remark. That can't be used as a premise to claim that my observation of that was an attack on his person. In essence all I said was Why are you impatient which I changed to Why are you frustrated?. Those aren't attacks on a person by any means.

 

Now to the heart of the matter: have you considered just taking a step back and appearing to behave like a mature human being?

Please don't take this conversation into a negative mode. There's just no call for that kind of thing here.

 

The purpose of this thread was to distinguish whether something was an ad hominem or not. I just happened to use a real life example. The persons name and the forum's name was intentionally left out of this thread so as to keep it a secret. This has nothing to do with that person or that forum but merely the definition and example of ad hominem.

 

Before this thread I wasn't 100% clear on what an ad honinem was. Now I cleary know all about them. The rest of my responses were answers to questions posed of me and commenting on others responses.

 

This is an exercise in an intellectual analysis of a particular part of cogent arguments. In particular its an analysis of the fallacy known as the personal attack aka ad hominem. I've been quite polite and logical throughout this thread, avoing negative deviations from the main topic.

 

I've been reading the book Practical Logic: An Antidote for Uncritical Thinking. Its part of my study of critical thinking and constructing cogent arguements and recogning logical fallacies. The personal attack which I used as an example was just that, an example. I created another thread as a continuation of this study. The name of that thread is Critical Thinking Skills.

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's pretty offensive.

Recurrent theme.

 

Since you've nitpicked your way through every post that seeks to clarify and placed your own special and often distorted interpretation on each post then I guess I can return the favour. I didn't say you were immature. I asked whteher it might not be worthwhile to behave in a way that appeared mature. I am addressing the appearance of your maturity/immaturity not its actuality. I have not expressed any view on whther or not you are mature. I have implied that your posts have a strong flavour of immaturity. That's not down to me - I'm not writing your posts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

!

Moderator Note

Ophiolite,
In your last post, I see that you did not mean to call pmb immature, but you do call pmb's writing style immature. And after reviewing this thread, it is my opinion that it is totally uncalled for. The mature thing would be to apologise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

or in short You're out to get me. To me, when someone says You're out to get me its an attack on my character. His response had nothing to due with my original argument, i.e. him that a particle with rest mass can't move at the speed of light.

 

And my question is why You're out to get me (I think you're singling me out is better) is not simply an observation.

 

 

I later said that I his comment expresses frustration since the purpose of the comment Oh, for crying out loud. is to express frustration. I even looked it up just to make sure. And I gave that link - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/for_crying_out_loud

 

Is frustration necessarily a sign of impatience?

 

Nope. Its not an attack when there's no question that its frustration. swansont will probanbly agree that he was frustrated, hence his remark. That can't be used as a premise to claim that my observation of that was an attack on his person. In essence all I said was Why are you impatient which I changed to Why are you frustrated?. Those aren't attacks on a person by any means.

 

 

I don't see the distinction between the remark that you might be singling someone out, which you deemed an attack, and the remark that I was impatient, which you called an observation. Your differentiation of personal attack vs attack on a person is unclear to me.

 

One difference, of course, is that things look different when you are the subject of the remark. In this case, you have a chance to clarify what you said, and have edited your post to better reflect what you meant, because you did not mean it as a personal attack; there was no intent. Perhaps it is the case that the same can be said of the other situation as well. Simply a matter of interpreting a post as an attack, rather than offering the benefit of the doubt that it was just an observation.

 

That you might take some amount of offense to the remark that reflects on your character is your prerogative, but you don't get to tell someone else that they don't get to have similar feelings in response to a comment about them.

 

For the record, yes, I find it frustrating that — from my perspective — you seem to be inconsistent in your application of the definition.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is frustration necessarily a sign of impatience?

Please reread post #54

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/67396-ad-hominem/page__view__findpost__p__687947

Btw, I made a mistake. Oh, for crying out loud is not an attack, its meant to show the emotion of either frustration, exasperation, or annoyance.

 

I think I see the source of our disagreement. You use the term personal attack to mean attack on a person. This is not what how the text, and several online sources, defines it. My text reads

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

Note that it doesn't call the fallacy the "personal attack fallacy" but merey calls it a personal attack.

 

By the way, you keep saying that this is my definition. Its not. Its how its defined in this text and elsewhere on the internet. Its the text that I use as an authoritative source though.

 

The following web site defines personal attack as follows

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/personal-attack.html

A personal attack is committed when a person substitutes abusive remarks for evidence when attacking another person's claim or claims.

 

Wikipedia defines personal attack as follows

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

personal attack (plural personal attacks)

1.Making of an abusive remark instead of providing evidence when examining another person's claims or comments

 

For these reaons its clear to me that a personal attack is not merely an attack on a person. You seem to believe that's how its defined. Is that correct? If so then why?

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For these reaons its clear to me that a personal attack is not merely an attack on a person. You seem to believe that's how its defined. Is that correct? If so then why?

 

I was using personal attack as written, not in terms of the definition included in fallacy descriptions; it's clearer, IMO to simply used ad hominem because that term is typically used only when discussing the fallacy, while the phrase personal attack is, in this light, ambiguous if you don't state that it's the fallacy. But I think that clears up my confusion on this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was using personal attack as written, not in terms of the definition included in fallacy descriptions; it's clearer, IMO to simply used ad hominem because that term is typically used only when discussing the fallacy, while the phrase personal attack is, in this light, ambiguous if you don't state that it's the fallacy. But I think that clears up my confusion on this.

I'm glad we could discuss all this in a polite fashion and come to the resolution. Thanks for the conversation! :)

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

!

Moderator Note

Ophiolite,

In your last post, I see that you did not mean to call pmb immature, but you do call pmb's writing style immature. And after reviewing this thread, it is my opinion that it is totally uncalled for. The mature thing would be to apologise.

Rubbish. I have stated, not that his writing style is immature, but that his writing style could be interpreted to indicate that he is immature. I am advising him, in good faith, that it might be worthwhile for him to consider adjusting that to avoid the formation of such an impression. I strenuously object to you acting in moderator role based upon an opinion that is poorly formed. Feel free to apologise.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rubbish. I have stated, not that his writing style is immature, but that his writing style could be interpreted to indicate that he is immature. I am advising him,

The moderator is trying to tell you that your opinion on my writing style is your own and he doesn't share it.

 

Have you ever heard of the term Doublespeak? Its defined as follows

Doublespeak is language that presends to communicate but really doesn't. It is language that makes the bad seem good, the negative appear positive, the unpleasant appear attractive or at least tolerable. Doublespeak is languge that avoids or shifts responsibility, language that is at variance with its real or purported meaning. It is language that conceals or prevents thought: rather than extending thought, doublespeak limits it.

When you write

...have you considered just taking a step back and appearing to behave like a mature human being?

This is very close to being doublespeak. It can only be read as meaning that without taking a step back, i.e. continuing as is, that I'm being an immature human being. I.e. its a veiled attempt at calling me immature.

 

Besides, nobody asked for your opinion and it'd be unwise to think that kind of "advice" would be desired by any reasonable person. That's most likely why it got a neg rep.

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

!

Moderator Note

Ophiolite,
The comment you made very much insinuated that pmb was immature and was taken as an insult. Staff would appreciate if you did not do this. And in future, if you don't agree with a mod action, please use the appropriate channels (report or PM) instead of derailing the thread.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always thought the concept of an ad hominem fallacy was relatively simple and didn't imagine it needed as much clarification as it has gotten here.

 

a) "Your argument is invalid because of x, y and z. Furthermore, you are an idiot"

b) "You are an idiot, your argument is wrong because of x, y and z."

 

are both not fallacies, but involve a personal attack. It seems like the OP is along the lines of a)

 

c) "You're stupid, stop typing."

 

is also not ad hominem fallacy as while it insults, it does not refute any arguments.

 

d) "Your argument is wrong because you are an imbecile"

 

Is an ad hominem fallacy and a personal attack. The argument is dismissed due to a personal assessment of the deliverer's character, not due to flaws in the argument. It is a fallacy, because being an imbecile has no bearing on whether the argument is correct or not.

 

e) "Your argument is wrong as it appears you've never studied the topic."

 

Is also an ad hominem fallacy, but not a personal attack. Whether or not someone has studied the topic is a personal judgment of the deliverer that has no bearing on the correctness of the argument.

Edited by Arete
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always thought the concept of an ad hominem fallacy was relatively simple and didn't imagine it needed as much clarification as it has gotten here.

 

a) "Your argument is invalid because of x, y and z. Furthermore, you are an idiot"

b) "You are an idiot, your argument is wrong because of x, y and z."

 

are both not fallacies, but involve a personal attack.

It appears that you might have missed what swansont and I were discussing. The term personal attack is not taken as the word "person" acting on "attack". I.e. personal attack is a term which does not mean attack on a person.

 

I have a text which defines these terms. On this point it says

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

Do you see how this is not the same as attack on a person?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you see how this is not the same as attack on a person?

 

I understand and disagree that you're using the term "personal attack" correctly - i.e.

 

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

Noun personal attack (plural personal attacks)

 

  1. Making of an abusive remark instead of providing evidence when examining another person's claims or comments.

Thus, in most common usage, the term "personal attack" would be roughly synonymous with insult - substitute insult for personal attack in my post if you wish.

 

The main point I was illustrating is that in an argument, not all insults are ad hom fallacies and not all ad hom fallacies are insults.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand and disagree that you're using the term "personal attack" correctly - i.e.

I disagree, of course.

 

1. Making of an abusive remark instead of providing evidence when examining another person's claims or comments.

The definition you just provided is in essense identical to the one in my text. In fact I've used this one myself in this thread. Your definition states that for somethng to be a personal atack it must be mopre than just an abusive remark. In order to be a personal attack it muist be given instead of elements of an argument against the other persons claim. You're using it as being synoymous with abusive remark which is an incorrect usage.

 

Thus, in most common usage, the term "personal attack" would be roughly synonymous with insult - substitute insult for personal attack in my post if you wish.

What you just claimed here is contrary to the definition you just gave in that the insul must be used instead of an arguement. An insult doesn't have to pertain to someones arguement like a personal attack does. And that's according to the definition you yourself just quoted.

Edited by pmb
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.