Debate Info

Use it! Lose it!
Debate Score:42
Total Votes:55
More Stats

Argument Ratio

side graph
 Use it! (9)
 Lose it! (7)

Debate Creator

AngeloDeOrva(298) pic

We Should Agree To Not Use The Term "Ad Hominem"

Does anyone even know what it means?

Use it!

Side Score: 28

Lose it!

Side Score: 14

I can't pronounce it let alone spell it. But here's what it means:

To attack the person who's argument is better than yours cause you just ain't got nothing; no come back, no nothing. I mean, you could say, "Well, I've got nothing." but how gratifying is that? Better to say, "Oh yeah!? Well you're a dingle berry, you kumquat!" And if you notice, your ad hominem doesn't even have to make sense.

I like ad hominems because:

A. They can be funny sometimes.

B. It lets me know the other person isn't imaginative enough to make something up to support his lame argument. Wait, did I just use an ad hominem?

Side: Use it!
4 points

haha i can DEFINITELY use these. ;D

Side: Use it!
3 points

I think this is directed at me. :)

If no one wants to hear it, then I can stop using it. It just became a regular part of my vocabulary, just like non sequitur because I (and other debaters) use it quite heavily. It's drilled into your head as part of debate theory (I'm in team policy debate - you debate whether a policy is good, such as illegal immigration or the US policy toward India).

Side: Use it!
1 point

It's not directed only at you; there are lots of people on this site and others that use it improperly. You're not the worst example, trust me; I just felt it was time to lay out in debate-form what has been irritating me for years.

Side: Lose it!

Merriam-Webster has it as:

Main Entry: 1ad ho·mi·nem

Pronunciation: \(ˈ)ad-ˈhä-mə-ˌnem, -nəm\

Function: adjective

Etymology: New Latin, literally, to the person

Date: 1598

1 : appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect

2 : marked by or being an attack on an opponent's character rather than by an answer to the contentions made has it as:

ad ho·mi·nem /æd ˈhɒmənəm‑ˌnɛm, ɑd-/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ad hom-uh-nuhm‑nem, ahd-]

–adjective 1. appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason.

2. attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument.

[Origin: < L: lit, to the man]

Any argument or debate using the age old ad hominem tactic holds very little weight in either form. Whereas some arguments or debates beg an answer which includes one's feelings regarding the subject matter, it is often used as a smokescreen behind which anyone can hide their lack of knowledge on that subject matter.

There is no reason not to use the term itself unless you do not understand its full meaning. It is the same as using the term ad feminam. When you compare ad hominem with ad feminam the definition becomes even more pointed however, there too, there is no reason not to use the term if it is applicable.

Compare ad feminam from

ad fem·i·nam /æd ˈfɛməˌnæm, -nəm, ɑd/ [ad fem-uh-nam, -nuhm, ahd]

–adjective appealing to one's personal considerations or feelings about women, esp. one's prejudices against them.

[Origin: < L: lit., to the woman]

Side: Understanding is the key to usage
1 point

The whole point of this debate is that people are not using the term properly. In every single instance in which I have seen the term used it has been wielded by someone who didn't understand the actual meaning of the word.

Side: Lose it!
2 points

Hello Angelo! I certainly do understand your dismay, however, I should think that the point of the argument might be in its title! I, for one, cannot agree not to use the term when I fully understand what it means and will not pander to those who don't. I reserve the right to use any word or phrase that describes or gives a more pointed meaning to my argument. Those who do not understand the language need to keep a dictionary at hand so they may refer to it.

Side: Understanding is the key to usage

There are many words and phrases people use to sound smart; to give themselves more credibility or feed their thriving ego. "Ad Hominem" (as well as the term "fallacy" and other latin philosophical and rhetorical phrases) seems to be the one most frequently used by those engaged in debate.

I have never once seen this phrase used properly; noone I have ever debated with has managed to place the term "Ad Hominem" or label something an "Ad Hominem" properly.

More often than not; Ad Hominems are used AS Ad Hominems; which is perhaps the most ridiculous usage of all due to its hemorrhage-inducing hypocrisy.

An example:

A:"The theory of evolution is incorrect."

B:"You're crazy! The theory of evolution is correct due to the research conducted by scientists A through Z; here are numerous experiments conducted and other papers written on the subject!"

A:"I'm not crazy, that's an ad hominem attack!"

B:"Ummm, what about all the information I provided?"

A:"I don't have to answer to it, it contains an ad hominem!"

Now, just because someone calls you a raging moron it doesn't mean they are using an ad hominem. Something only qualifies it as an ad hominem if the attack is the argument; or if the argument rests on the attack itself.

Name-calling or voicing negative opinions about the opposite party may be impolite or annoying; but it is not necessarily an ad hominem "fallacy".

Also; there is another gem of curious logic that I can provide a direct example of here on this site.

"Argumentum Ad Hominem

Just because I am using a source that has an official stance does not invalidate the source. In other words, instead of attacking the organization (a red herring) attack what they say. Congratulations on being logically inept."

Now; this person used a source to back up their claims that was a partisan, non-scientific organization completely biased towards their point of view explicitly. I said that their source, the Heritage Foundation, was such; indicating the likelyhood that the information presented was biased.

Is this an ad hominem attack? Of course not. Unless of course it is an ad hominem attack in this situation:

A:"The Jews are the reason the world is so bad!"

B:"What? No they are not! They contribute greatly to the world!"

A:"Well, according to the Anti-Jew League they caused the Great Depression!"

B:"Anti-Jew League? That's not a likely source of historically or factually accurate information! It is non-scientific and obviously biased against Jews!"

A:"AD HOMINEM ATTACK! You're stupid!"

I don't know why but the people that most seem to misuse the phrase are libertarians (and philosophy majors); it's a curious thing but damnably irritating.

If anyone else has ad hominem-related horror-stories, please share.

Side: Lose it!
waaykuul(321) Disputed
5 points

Name calling is an ad hominem attack. If you say that it's not, then what is an ad hominem? The reason why ad hominems are banned in every form of debate I know of (team policy, Lincoln-Douglas, parliamentary, etc) is because it has nothing to do with the main point of the debate: whether the arguments are good or not. If ad hominems are allowed, many debates would turn into ugly who-can-call-the-other-worse-names fest (and I've seen this happen! the debaters involved got kicked out of the tournament)..

Side: Use it!
2 points

First of all, this is not a formal debate. Secondly, name calling is not an Ad Hominem attack; I stated, plainly, what IS.

Ad hominem's are types of arguments, name-calling, if it is not the argument or the crucial part of an argument, is not an ad hominem, it is name-calling.

Side: Lose it!

Remember Saturday Night Live.... "Jane, you ignorant slut!" Am I dating myself?

Side: Use it!
3 points

By the way, I agree about organizations. That is not an ad hominem. Discrediting evidence by showing that a source is biased is an often-used argument.

Side: Lose it!
1 point

Now; this person used a source to back up their claims that was a partisan, non-scientific organization completely biased towards their point of view explicitly. I said that their source, the Heritage Foundation, was such; indicating the likelyhood that the information presented was biased.

It's still a red herring, best classified as Ad Hom. (a foundation isn't a "Man" but it's not meant literally). You rejected a peice of info because it came from an organization that has a bias (that doesn't make them unscientific. Creationists illogically reject pro-evolution resources with similar excuses of bias). In other words, instead of actually looking at the data they collected, or the argument they presented, you ignored on the basis that the "man" (or organization in this case) had a bias. You attacked the organization, not what they presented. It is a perfect example of an ad hominem, which you fail to see through your illogical fog.

If you don't agree with what I wrote above, than try this on for size. You're wrong. The reasons you think that it ISN'T an ad hom. are illegitimate because of have a clear bias against the term.

See the difference?

Side: Use it!
0 points

What's interesting is that I never actually rejected what the Heritage Foundation wrote specifically because it was the Heritage Foundation; I never said the information was invalid or anything of the kind. I did, however, place doubt on the information and noted that it came from a biased source.

You, of course, decided to twist this into an outright rejection of the information because it came from the Heritage Foundation. Of course, I rejected the information because I knew there is information contradicting its claims.

I said the information was demonstrably false, and it is; but while I looked up the sources of the information I decided to let the people following the debate know where you were getting the info; specifically that where you were getting it was not from an un-biased scientific agency. That was all I said; in addition to the info itself being false. (We never did complete the debate, but we can always start it back up and I can finish researching.)

You, of course, take offense to my unmasking your source of "information". It isn't a red herring, if I were to post excerpts from Noam Chomsky's books or works from explicitly leftist organizations you would question the information I provided and would say as much as I did. Lord, I could use speeches by Joseph Stalin himself as a valid source of information if what you said holds true. As if you wouldn't immediately call into question what a totalitarian dictator said. But let's not get bogged down by obvious and predictable hypocrisy.

In debates it is perfectly acceptable to call into question the validity of certain sources of information and point out obvious biases. This is done in any scientific research, policy discussions, and educational debates. It is always factored in; especially if you are working in professional circles, all data is taken with a grain of salt, even in so-called un-biased organizations.

"If you don't agree with what I wrote above, than try this on for size. You're wrong. The reasons you think that it ISN'T an ad hom. are illegitimate because of have a clear bias against the term."

This is a certain logical collapse on your part. Perhaps I am wrong if I only reference my own opinion without referral to outside sources of information, that might work with your logical twists.

However, what I am saying only extends to people who are actually citing me when looking for a definition of ad hominem. If they were to utilize me in an attack on your definition of ad hominem you could easily point out my bias as my definition serves my own purposes and is against your own.

I am not a dictionary, nor am I an expert in philosophy, linguistics, or anything relating to the professional understanding of ad hominem. I cannot be cited in a paper without the person doing the citation losing credibility. I am not a credible source.

However, in our own personal debate I am not wrong because I am biased against my own opinion because I am able to utilize outside resources such as dictionaries as well as logical and philosophical constructs not of my own doing. I, then, can reference things if you were to challenge my definition of ad hominem, I can use independent philosophical and linguistic resources and professionals.

That's the difference; I am not citing myself, I am stating an opinion. You, however, are using outside information as a resource, information you regard as legitimate and reputable. I, however, am in full rights to call into question the legitimacy and reputation of the source of information without it being deemed an "ad hominem".

Let me put it extremely simply:

Your "logic" only works if I said the following:

"Ad hominem is X because I say so".

But, of course, that would make sense. We can't have any of that, now can we?

Pointing out bias, apparently, is an ad hominem attack. As is anything that points out possible faults in information provided. I will go ahead and call up all the scientific agencies and tell them they've been committing logical fallacies without even knowing it! Someone get the bloody APA on the line, we've got a logical crisis on our hands!

Jesus "Ham and Cheese", I think you've saved the entire scientific community from certain fallacy!

Side: Lose it!