Ad Hominem: When People Use Personal Attacks in Arguments – Effectiviology

  • 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.
  • Variants:
    • Credentials fallacy: attacking the credentials of the source
    • Poisoning the well: irrelevant negative info about the opponent
    • Appeal to motive: questioning the motives of the source
    • Appeal to hypocrisy: questioning the consistency of the source
    • Association fallacy: attack based on the supposed association
    • Traitorous critic fallacy: just stay away from criticizing
    • Tone policing: focus on the manner of the argument rather than the argument itself
    • Abusive fallacy: attack the person directly without cause
  • Countering:
    • Point out the irrelevance
    • Respond to the attack directly
    • Acknowledge the attack and move on