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 Argumentum Ad Hominem

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-Psychonaut
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PostSubject: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:55 am

Taken from another forum:

Quote :
Ok, there seems to be some confusion again about what exactly an argumentum ad hominem consists of, so I thought I'd revisit this topic.

There is a difference between an argumentum ad hominem and an insult.
An insult is subjective, and may readily be the conclusion of a philosophical argument. An argumentum ad hominem is when some characteristic of a person expressing a view is used as an argument against the view they are expressing. The following examples demonstrate the distinction:

You are wrong THEREFORE Your education was woefully inadequate

Your education was woefully inadequate THEREFORE You are wrong

Both of them may be considered insults, but only the latter is an argumentum ad hominem. The first is a perfectly legitimate conclusion, so long as some groundwork is laid out regarding what constitutes an adequate education and how being right about the matter at hand would be a part of that.

However, the first is not necessarily an insult. A person may be told that their education to date has been inadequate, realise that this is the case, and set out to correct it. The person informing them of the woeful inadequacy of their education may have nothing but the best intentions (that a failing be pointed out so it may be corrected).
Only to a person arrogant enough to consider the measure of education to be the measure of a man would it constitute an insult. The argumentum ad hominem in this case is an insult, as it reduces a person of poor education to a place of lower status wherein they can never be correct in opposition to a person of greater education; i.e. it characterises a person on some arbitrary trait and then judges them for it (the basis of most insults).

Anyone who has had a philosophical education who goes around accusing people of argumentum ad hominems when they have not made an argumentum ad hominem, but simply a statement they did not like, is one of three things:
1. A person with a woefully inadequate education
2. A person who never paid a jot of bloody attention during an adequate education
OR
3. A deceitful little bastard who had an adequate education and knows full well that his accusations are bullshit, whose sole purpose in philosophy is the pathetic attempt to disrupt those earnestly engaged in it

Considering that the topic of argumentum ad hominems has been covered extensively before on this forum, I can only conclude that any such person who still does this here is most likely to be number 3.

I will further add to this that there is a craven attitude not too uncommon within philosophy, where strong arguments laid out by an interlocutor are ignored wholly. Instead soft targets are concentrated on, and it is assumed that by negating these soft targets the whole argument is destroyed.

Yet I could say this:

A implies Z
B implies Z

If you negate A then I can still rely on B to imply Z.
There are many amongst so-called philosophers who trump about the place proudly proclaiming that they have undermined such and such a notion, when all they have done is clear away the rubbish that was surrounding sturdy struts.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:03 am

Insults are very clear & concise tools of logic that should be creatively-employed to make a point.

However, this does not mean that the person being insulted cannot or should not defend himself.

Sometimes insults are accurate; sometimes they are not. Who is to say what is accurate or not?
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:06 am

As I said, insults are subjective. What to one man is an insult is to another not.

It should be understood that when someone says "You are stupid" they mean "In my opinion you are stupid".

Is it really of such import that you not be viewed as stupid by another person, are they not entitled to that view of you? A person who rises to such bait demonstrates that they are insecure, "what if I am stupid?" and seeks validation of their intelligence by refuting that the other could possibly think them to be stupid.

If you do not think you are stupid, refute it by appreciating your own intelligence.

Oh, and trust your own judgement. If your judgement is that you are not stupid, yet someone else thinks you are stupid, then this tells you something about their judgement surely? As much as when someone says "that ball is green" when it is in fact red you know them to be colour blind. Unless, ofcourse, you have draped the ball in a green cover, in which case it might be an idea to give them every chance to see the red. If they then still see green, well, then you know their judgement is flawed and you can move on.

Boo/yay statements can be safely ignored in philosophy. That doesn't mean to say that someone is wrong to include them in their philosophy, as it need not all be dry argumentation, and we should not attempt to rob anyone of the chance to express themselves in a style characteristic of themselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:18 am

That is incorrect. There are clear distinctions between what is subjective and what is objective.

Take beauty for example. There is a common-conception of beauty. And scientific experiments have demonstrated that infants and young children will repeatedly-choose symmetrical appearances to define as 'beautiful' as if this were innate. This is because 'beauty' is in-fact innate. It is genetically-predetermined. Some people are born ugly. Some people are born beautiful. Some people are born rich, poor, strong, weak, etc. There are ways to qualitatively-validate such claims as well. Thus, it is not so much an "opinion" of a judge that woman A is ugly because she is too fat or woman B is beautiful because she is neither too fat nor too skinny. It becomes qualitatively-true that woman A is in-fact ugly and woman B is in-fact beautiful, for whatever reasons.

Therefore, although somebody may state the claim "you are ugly", chances are very high that if you are in-fact ugly that you will become defensive towards the insult and see the truth for what it is: you are ugly. The subtleties are there. It is a matter of self-identification, not only how you see yourself, but how everybody sees you and one another through self-relation. Thus, some people are in-fact ugly and some people are in-fact beautiful...


Ugly:




Beautiful:




Now there is also a degree of self-confidence after you appropriately-relate with whether you are indeed beautiful or ugly. In other words, it is still possible to *CONVINCE* a beautiful person into thinking that he/she is ugly, and vice versa with an ugly person thinking he/she is beautiful. Only a more intelligent mind can decipher the difference, one that is especially-observant to the details of said qualifications ... excluding the matter of quantification.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:40 am

That second woman, while not as ugly as the first, is definately ugly to me. She has alien-face. Beauty is most definately in the eye of the beer-holder.

You are universalising from the general, don't worry about it, its a rookie mistake.

That's all beside the point though, because I did not claim that ugliness (or even intelligence) is subjective. I claimed that insults are subjective.

You may call a person ugly who knows they are ugly, are happy with being ugly, and they will say "yes I am" and then shrug you off, seeing perfectly the ugliness that lies within your soul, in your pathetic attempt to make them feel bad for their observable trait.

Similarly, many people are happy with the fact that they are ignorant, and when told of their ignorance will say "elucidate me" (or perhaps some other words, what with them being ignorant). If you fail to elucidate them then they will again shrug you off, as a person who cannot back up their claims and so not worthy of their notice. For sure, the claim may be true, but who will take someone's word on what they have not themselves observed?

And finally, we come to intelligence. There is no 'one thing' intelligence, and I will happily call any man stupid who thinks that there is. The mind is responsible for a great deal of different tasks and we all have varying abilities. Each of these is to some degree quantifiable, but they are demonstrably different abilities (the brain can compensate by adapting to some degree, but not a great degree, when some part fails).
You then have to consider that regardless of how intelligent someone's brain is, most people just 'think stupid'.

And, again, as I said before, when someone calls you stupid, or ugly, or whatever, they are expressing their opinion of your intelligence, or appearance, or whatever.

I don't find anyone's opinion of me to be insulting, because I know my own judgement and rely solely on it, and am perfectly happy for people to dislike me or think me stupid or whatever. I know that if they think I'm stupid the chances are they are thick as two short planks, and I know that in this world one constant is that you will be disliked by some of the people some of the time, and I also know I look fucking good. So, I stand as living proof, insults are subjective, cos you can try and insult me all you like, and you will be telling me more about yourself than you will be telling me about me.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:49 am

Your shit does not fly with me.

This is not about "opinions". Go back to ILO if you want mere-opinions....
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:52 am

It is precisely because I do not value opinions that I am not insulted when someone calls me stupid.

I was in Birkenhead the other day, and I heard some people talking about how shit Liverpool and Chester are, and how shit everyone from Liverpool and Chester is. I did not hear "Liverpool and Chester are shit", as that is mere opinion, I heard the facts behind the statement. The facts were "I am insecure about my identity to the degree that I have to premise it on my place of habitation, and because my place of habitation is so dire I have to reassure myself by constantly deriding other places nearby to me".

How can I go back to where I have not been?
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:09 am

-Psychonaut wrote:
It is precisely because I do not value opinions that I am not insulted when someone calls me stupid.
Then their insult is not an opinion!


-Psychonaut wrote:
I was in Birkenhead the other day, and I heard some people talking about how shit Liverpool and Chester are, and how shit everyone from Liverpool and Chester is. I did not hear "Liverpool and Chester are shit", as that is mere opinion, I heard the facts behind the statement. The facts were "I am insecure about my identity to the degree that I have to premise it on my place of habitation, and because my place of habitation is so dire I have to reassure myself by constantly deriding other places nearby to me".

How can I go back to where I have not been?
Let me rephrase: Walk backward until you find yourself in that place.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:10 am

You should figure out the difference between an 'opinion' and a 'statement' before you make shitty threads like this.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:15 am

aww, how cute.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:50 am

A comment...yes beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perspective, and all that...but the beholder has evolve to find some manifestations appealing and others not...and so the commonality of all that behold, as being part of a space/time continuum with common physical rules creates a congruence of interpretations....with modifications being produced when the original intent is warped by immediate environmental conditions...


So beauty is an indication of fitness a symmetry exposing a level of order, which in entropy is found desirable.
It is also an indication of an inheritance of succesful genes.

Just for that I will include you in my Philosophy Kings group.
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PostSubject: Re: Argumentum Ad Hominem   Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:10 am

Quote :
3. A deceitful little bastard who had an adequate education and knows full well that his accusations are bullshit, whose sole purpose in philosophy is the pathetic attempt to disrupt those earnestly engaged in it
I think there may be another reading of this point.

Someone may use Argumentum Ad Hominem, or a whole host of other fallacies, sales and marketing techniques, propaganda tactics, even Argumentum Ad Baculum, in an "attempt to disrupt those earnestly engaged"; but not with the aim of being "pathetic", rather with a high end in mind.

Imagine, I am a cow. You and some others are debating if I ought to be made into a soup, a roast, a steak and so on, "earnestly" inquiring into it. Assuming cows can talk, do you think the cow would be justified to use some ruse or fallacy or piece of emotive propaganda, or violence, to save his hide, or to save cow-dom in general from the gross exploitation of humans?

Goodness is presumably the same as truth, beauty, justice and so on, as you say, the "sole purpose in philosophy", but sometimes exigencies make it 'prudent', let's say, to engage in unphilosophical method. Fair and right method is a sort of luxury that not all, talking cows for instance, can afford.

Quote :
strong arguments laid out by an interlocutor are ignored wholly. Instead soft targets are concentrated on, and it is assumed that by negating these soft targets the whole argument is destroyed.
As a cow, it really matters not about the strength or softness of arguments the slaughter house butchers may have.

"I will further add to this that there is a craven attitude not too uncommon within philosophy..." of luxury and elitism, splitting hairs while cows die.
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