The ad hominem argument, literally “against the person “, is one of the most common fallacies and consists in disqualifying the interlocutor with some personal attack and not attending to their reflections. In other words, it seeks to discredit an argument through the personal disqualification of the individual who supports it. The misleading dimension of the ad hominem attack is evident: instead of focusing the criticism on the thesis defended by the interlocutor, an individual attack is chosen.
With the intention of defending certain ideals, it is quite common for people to exchange positions and points of view as if it were a dialectical competition . As a general rule, we all want to be right and for that we use some strategy to dismantle our opponent’s arguments.
There are arguments that have a valid structure , such as deductive ( reasoning is deductive when the conclusion depends on the validity of the premises) or inductive (in inductive reasoning the truth of the premises allows the truth of the conclusion to have a certain degree of probability). However, there are ways of thinking that have a misleading dimension and are known as fraudulent arguments or fallacies. Ad Hominem Argument
An illustrative example
In a parliamentary debate, two deputies debate the problem of unemployment. Deputy X argues that unemployment could be solved by betting on public employment and Deputy Y claims that such a position cannot be defended by Deputy X because his children are unemployed and, therefore, his analysis of unemployment is unfounded. This attack on the person is a fallacy because someone’s family situation does not prevent their ideas from being valid. Ad Hominem Argument
On the other hand, it is distinguished that this type of personal attack also disqualifies the person who uses it to argue their point of view.
The ad ignorantiam fallacy is commonly used to defend the existence of God and the opposite idea
In addition to the ad hominem argument, there are others that are based on some logical inconsistency, such as the ad ignorantiam fallacy. With this argument, it is intended to reach a conclusion that cannot be denied or refuted. Thus, there are people who claim that God exists because it is not possible to prove that he does not exist.
There are also people who resort to this fraudulent argumentative approach to demonstrate the opposite thesis, namely, that God does not exist because it is not possible to prove his existence. Ad Hominem Argument