Ad Hominem By: Kristin Key & Amanda Crabtree
It’s an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it. Definition
Simplified Definition If Person A makes statement X and Person B makes an attack on person A’s statement and claims Person A is wrong. Then A's statement is automatically not true.
Picture Example Just because the speaker has an owl doesn’t make the target audience who doesn’t have an owl wrong, that’s a false argument.
Universal Example Bill: "I believe that abortion is morally wrong." Dave: "Of course you would say that, you're a priest." Bill: "What about the arguments I gave to support my position?" Dave: "Those don't count. Like I said, you're a priest, so you have to say that abortion is wrong. Further, you are just a lackey to the Pope, so I can't believe what you say."
Universal Explanation Dave attacks Bill’s opinion about abortion because he believes that Bill is just claiming he thinks abortion is wrong because he is a priest and that it’s his place to claim and to think that. Although he has no reason not to think that, Bill does believe it’s morally wrong and isn’t just saying that because he is a priest.
Crucible Example 1 • Ad Hominem • Hale Hale: Aye. But the Devil is a wily one, you cannot deny it. However, she is far from accused, and I know she will not be. I thought to put some questions as the Christians character of this house, if you’ll permit me. Proctor: Why we – have no fear of questions, sir. Hale: Good, then. In the book of record that Mr. Parris keeps, I note that you are rarely in the church on Sabbath Day.
Hale states that he is not going to be accused automatically until proven guilty but then states that Proctor rarely goes to church on Sunday. Therefore, that is evidence that he must be guilty because that is not what a Christian man would do.
Crucible Example 2 1. Ad Hominem2. Cheever 3. Act 3 Page 211Danforth: Not come to church? Proctor: I – I have no love for Mr. Parris. It is not secret. But God I surely love. Cheever: He plow on Sunday, sir.
Danforth: Plow on Sunday! Cheever: I think it be evidence John. I am an official of the court, I cannot keep it. Proctor: I – I have once or twice plowed on Sunday. I have three children, sir, and until last year my hand give little. Just because Cheever brought up that John Proctor plows on Sundays he is automatically guilty in Danforth’s mind. He does not give Proctor time to react to that statement or explain himself.
Citations “Ad Hominem.” Grammar About. Grammar.About.com, 2011. Web. 20 Feb 2011. Animal Rights Philosophy. 26 Sept 2007. Wisconsin Historical Museum. Web. 20 Feb 2011. “Fallacy: Ad Hominem.” The Nizkor Project. Nizkor.org. Web. 20 Feb 2011. T. E. Damer. Attacking Faulty Reasoning. Wadsworth. 2001. Web. 20 Feb 2011.