Liveware Quickies: The Ad-Hominem Fallacy

The Ad-Hominem, a logical fallacy, also, a black metal band.

Ad-Hominem

An Ad-Hominem fallacy means that you attack a person, instead of their argument, in an effort to undermine their argument. It is actually very similar to the “Red Herring” fallacy (also sometimes can be mixed with “Poisoning The Well”).
Here are some examples of what is, and what is not, ad-hominem:

P1: God does exists, and you are going to hell for disobeying his will!
P2: Fuck off

P2 does not commit an ad-hominem fallacy, “Fuck off” is a request for the suspension of communication. P2 does not address P1 or his argument at all.

P1: God does exist, and you are going to hell for disobeying his will!
P2: Prove God or Hell first, you fucker!

P2 does not commit an ad-hominem fallacy, P2 is directly addressing the argument of P1. If his language is civil or not does not make any difference.

P1: God does exist, and you are going to hell for disobeying his will!
P2: Quite frankly anything you, as a registered sex offender, says, can not be believed.

P2 IS committing an ad-hominem fallacy. P2 is trying to undermine the argument of P1 by attacking P1’s person directly.
Note that the language used by P2 in this example is civil and calm.

P1: God does exist, and you are going to hell for disobeying his will!
P2: You stupid nigger, prove god or hell first before you make such statements.

P2 is technically -NOT- committing a fallacy. Yes P2 is attacking P1’s person directly but -NOT- in the effort to undermine his argument. However, this is a tricky one, because it uses a racial slur with combination of the word “stupid” and can in certain cultural contexts be considered an ad-hominem,

P1: As a trained engineer i know a few things about science and evolution is complete bullshit!
P2: You are not a biologist, you obviously don’t know what you are talking about.

This one is hard to spot but its actually -not- an ad-hominem fallacy.
P2 questions P1’s -expertise- in a subject not his argument.

These are the most prominent situations.

Please be aware that if someone just uses rude language they are not automatically committing an ad-hominem fallacy.

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