Ad Hominem Arguments

Discussion in 'Philosophy & Psychology' started by Ronni Gates, Sep 24, 2020.

  1. Ronni Gates

    Ronni Gates Active Member
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    An ad hominem argument is a personal attack against the source of an argument, rather than against the argument itself. Essentially, this means that ad hominem arguments are used to attack opposing views indirectly, by attacking the individuals or groups that support these views.

    My ex used to do this. He would denigrate or vilify me or anyone he was arguing with if they didn't agree with him. It was only ever a diversionary tactic when he just didn't have enough actual information to refute what the other person was saying. It would redirect the discussion, reframe the topic, but it was subtle. He was a master at this and it took me a long time to figure out why I could never seem to come out on top in a discussion/argument. He was also a domineering man, and that didn't help any either.

    It was interesting though, once I realized the tactic, it was fascinating, in an awful kind of way, to see him at work, to observe the nuanced way he shifted the topic without the other person even realizing what was going on. He was a master at being passive aggressive as part of the tactic. I mean, it's brilliant really. It's human nature to defend oneself when one is attacked. That's the typical response, and so when one is attacked, however subtly, one tends to move from an offensive stance to a defensive one, and when you've done that, you're already one down in the discussion.

    As difficult and painful as it was to converse with my ex or hear him talking to others, I learned a lot about this tactic and have been able to stop it in others. It wasn't unique to him, and realizing that other folks use it too has made it possible to remain unaffected by it when I'm in conversation with someone.

    What about you?
     
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  2. Beth Gallagher

    Beth Gallagher Veteran Member
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    Yes, we see a bit of that here... especially in the political threads. :D
     
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  3. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ronni Gates

    Your personal revelations are rather stunning. What about me? "Dunno much about the French I took".

    Frank
     
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  4. Nancy Hart

    Nancy Hart Veteran Member
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    I've been pretty lucky so far. The closest I got was one time a person, who I had known for a few years, disagreed with me on one issue, and out of the blue called me a "Hater." That seems to be the new buzz word lately. I've never been called that before, and it's hard to forget that one.

    I realized I didn't know the person at all. I think it was a case of what they call "projection," where the person accuses you of what they are.
     
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  5. John Brunner

    John Brunner Very Well-Known Member
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    I was unaware that there was any other type of debate tactic left in the public square.

    I used to love watching Buckley's show because--agree or disagree--you can learn so much through an honest (or at least a moderated) exchange.

    In some cases ad hominem attacks are the tools of an abuser...to keep the other person on the defensive rather than be honest, or to control.
     
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  6. Ronni Gates

    Ronni Gates Active Member
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    Hmm. I'm not sure whether you're criticizing the fact that I revealed things about my personal life, or are shocked that someone would behave that way. IOW not sure what you're stunned about.
     
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  7. Terry Coywin

    Terry Coywin Very Well-Known Member
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    Nothing can raise my ire more than ad hominem arguments. A debate where each party disagrees but respects the other's opinion and right thereof is ok with me, but start with name calling and personal attacks. Well............I'll resort to Buckley type ripostes.
     
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  8. Thomas Stearn

    Thomas Stearn Very Well-Known Member
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    It's part of the 38 strategems worked out by Schopenhauer in his Eristic Dialectic which are indeed quite well-known and are commonly used because they are helpful in standing one's ground especially if your counterpart is not aware of them.:D
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Art_of_Being_Right
     
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  9. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ronni Gates

    Not criticizing, perhaps stunned should be replaced by surprised. As I grew up, it was always emphasized that others' personal problems and difficulties were best kept private. Others see it differently.

    Frank
     
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  10. Ronni Gates

    Ronni Gates Active Member
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    oh ok I get it now. I was a victim of domestic abuse and control, and have become very outspoken about it after many years of shame and hiding it from everyone, in an effort to help other victims as I was helped.
     
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  11. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Veteran Member
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    @Ronni Gates

    Which is of course commendable. It was just not interpreted that way as I read it: I am not the most highly versed individual in being understanding. Sorry!

    Frank
     
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  12. Silvia Benoit

    Silvia Benoit Well-Known Member
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    At the very first personal attack from the person I am debating with I get up and leave. No, I won't socialize with him / her again.
     
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  13. Terry Coywin

    Terry Coywin Very Well-Known Member
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    There are times when I foolishly cannot resist a challenge. Fruitless usually.
     
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  14. Silvia Benoit

    Silvia Benoit Well-Known Member
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    Is only human; I have done the same...to discover five minutes later how pointless it was.
     
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  15. Jeff Elohim

    Jeff Elohim Well-Known Member
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    Since the sources of many arguments are not trustworthy, and has nothing to do with a person making a statement or even an argument (at least not necessarily) ,
    and to know and say this is not at all an attack on a person making an argument ,
    I had to look it up ..... and glad I did (I guess) ... >>
    Ad hominem - Wikipedia
    [​IMG]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem
    Ad hominem (Latin for 'to the person'), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a term that refers to several types of arguments, most of which are fallacious.Typically this term refers to a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.
     
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