I have formulated and presented a hypothesis on this personal blog and several groups in the social media. The hypothesis presented is concerning the definition, behavior, and characteristics of an elite class of people I have called the “Aristazzi”. The Aristazzi are “the obscenely wealthy elite who employ their wealth, in the United States and elsewhere, to manipulate and control government to their own self-gratification and hedonism.” As with all scientific hypotheses, it must be capable of being falsified (proven or disproven); to retain the element of ‘falsifiability’. I welcome evidence to disprove the premises of my hypothesis, but sometimes the arguments of a hypothesis are not contradicted or denied, but the person presenting the arguments. I have referred to such attacks as ‘putting personalities before principles’. The following is a summation of the misguided, misleading, unethical, and unscholarly approach to debate and deliberation known as “argumentum ad hominem”:
Attacking the Person
(argumentum ad hominem)
The person presenting an argument is attacked instead of the argument itself. This takes many forms. For example, the person’s character, nationality or religion may be attacked. Alternatively, it may be pointed out that a person stands to gain from a favourable outcome. Or, finally, a person may be attacked by association, or by the company he keeps.
There are three major forms of Attacking the Person:
- Ad hominem (abusive): instead of attacking an assertion, the argument attacks the person who made the assertion.
- Ad hominem (circumstantial): instead of attacking an assertion the author points to the relationship between the person making the assertion and the person’s circumstances.
- Ad hominem (tu quoque): this form of attack on the person notes that a person does not practise what he preaches.
- You may argue that God doesn’t exist, but you are just a fat idiot. (ad hominem abusive)
- We should discount what Steve Forbes says about cutting taxes because he stands to benefit from a lower tax rate. (ad hominem circumstantial)
- We should disregard Fred’s argument because he is just angry about the fact that defendant once cheated him out of $100. (ad hominem circumstantial)
- You say I should give up alcohol, but you haven’t been sober for more than a year yourself. (ad hominem tu quoque)
- You claim that Mr. Jones is innocent, but why should anyone listen to you? You are a Mormon after all. (ad hominem circumstantial)
Identify the attack and show that the character or circumstances of the person has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the proposition being defended.
Barker: 166, Cedarblom and Paulsen: 155, Copi and Cohen: 97, Davis: 80