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CRITICAL THINKING – Fallacies: Introduction to Ad Hominem Fallacies

CRITICAL THINKING – Fallacies: Introduction to Ad Hominem Fallacies


(intro music) Hi, my name is Julianne Chung, and I’m a graduate student
at Yale University. Today, I am going to talk
about ad hominem fallacies. “Ad hominem” is a Latin term that can be translated into
English as “to the man,” which is a very literal translation, or “against the person,” which
is a bit more descriptive. Ad hominem fallacies are
also very often called “fallacies of personal attack.” This is because such
fallacies are commited whenever one attempts
to challenge a position by criticizing something
having to do with its source, thereby shifting attention
away from the points at issue, and focusing it instead on
those who are arguing for them. There are many different
kinds of ad hominem fallacies. We are going to briefly survey six here. They go by the following names. First, abusive ad hominem. Second, circumstantial ad hominem. Third, tu quoque. Fourth, guilt by association. Fifth, genetic fallacy. And sixth, ad feminam. Abusive ad hominem arguments present personal
characteristics of individuals as good reasons to discount their ideas. However, although certain
personal characteristics might give us reason for suspicion, they do not affect the virtues of claims considered on their own. Here’s an example of such an argument: “We should never think that
anything politicians ever say “is true, because they’re
all dirty, lying scumbags.” It should be easy enough to see that this argument does not give us reason to discount everything
that politicians say. Indeed, even those who
are the least admirable likely say true things at
least some of the time. Whereas an abusive ad hominem argument works by attacking an individual directly, a circumstantial ad hominem argument attempts to challenge a person’s position by suggesting that she
is advancing it merely to serve her own interests. Although this can be seen as abusive, circumstantial ad hominem arguments differ from abusive ad hominem arguments in that they focus on
their target’s situations, rather than on their
personal characteristics. Once again, however,
although such arguments may give us reason to question
an individual’s intentions, they do not impact whether
her claims themselves are nonetheless worth taking seriously. Consider this argument: “Summer vacation should be abolished. “Any student who argues otherwise
should not be listened to, “because he or she stands to
benefit from its continuation.” Although me might wonder
whether a student who opposes getting rid of summer vacation is doing so solely out of self-interest, that has no bearing on
whether it should indeed be eliminated or not, or whether such a student’s
arguments are any good or not. Plenty of excellent
positions and arguments also happen to benefit
those advocating them. That does not diminish
their merit, however. Another tactic that is
often used to attack claims by undermining their
advocate’s credibility involves allegations of a
certain kind of hypocrisy. This fallacy goes by the name “tu quoque,” which in Latin means
“you too,” or “you also.” When one commits the tu quoque fallacy, one accuses the person
of acting in a manner that contradicts some
position that she supports, and concludes that her view is worthless on account of the fact that she failed to follow her own advice. However, whether someone
is acting in a manner that is somehow in tension with the position she is advancing has no bearing on whether
it is right or wrong, although it can admittedly
strike us as somehow dishonest, or less than noble. Here’s an example: “I can’t believe you’re
trying to convince me “that I should give more money to charity, “when you don’t give
nearly as much as I do.” Whether the person that
this argument attacks (let’s call him “person B”)
gives as much money to charity as the person advancing
this argument does (let’s call her “person A”) has no bearing on whether
person A should or should not give more money to charity. Presumably, that depends on other things besides what B is doing, say, for example, how
much money person A makes, how much money person A
presently gives, and so on. The guilt by association fallacy is committed whenever one tries to argue against a certain view by pointing out that some unsavory person is likely to have agreed with it, as in: “Chocolate chip
cookies can’t be any good. “My philosophy professor loves them, “and she is the meanest
teacher I have ever had!” As we all know, chocolate
chip cookies are delicious, despite the fact that some
mean people think so as well. A claim can be true
despite its being endorsed by someone we don’t like. However, while arguments that commit the guilt by association fallacy aim to cast a claim into question by condemning someone who is
likely to have agreed with it, the genetic fallacy occurs
whenever an attempt is made to cast a claim into question
by condemning its origin. Here’s an example of an argument that commits the genetic fallacy: “The founder of organization X “served time in prison for embezzlement, “so we can conclude that the organization “must still be corrupt.” We can imagine this
argument being advanced in order to argue against a claim to the effect that organization X offers many excellent services and deserves financial support. However, the mere fact that
the founder of organization X was a criminal does not
show that the organization currently acts in a way that
is morally unacceptable. Things could have
changed a lot since then. As a note, arguments that
commit the genetic fallacy can also be used positively,
to support claims rather than undermine them. The last fallacy that I am
going to talk about today goes by the name “ad feminam.” Ad feminam arguments
attempt to discredit a claim on the grounds that a
female person proposed it. Such arguments often include
statements to the effect of: “Why should I believe
anything you have to say? “After all, you’re just a woman.” I take it to be more or less obvious as to why such arguments
are deeply problematic. How about this example? Does it commit one of the
fallacies just considered? If so, which one? “Ronald Reagan was in
favor of similar policies, “so they must be the right thing to do.” Subtitles by the Amara.org community

29 thoughts on “CRITICAL THINKING – Fallacies: Introduction to Ad Hominem Fallacies

  1. couldnt that last one just have been an ad hominem fallacy and not its own thing. you know because it is attacking the person. if that gets to be its own i want an ad mexicanism to be on the list or ad blackism.

  2. Why does there need to be a distinction between an Ad Feminam and a circumstantial Ad Hominem? It is purely circumstantial that a person x happens to be a woman; therefore, the claims person x espouses are not necessarily related or dependent on the fact they she is a woman.

  3. The genetic fallacy explanation is completely wrong.  "It could have changed" is not the issue.  

    Genetic fallacy is when one attacked the credibility of an idea based on it's origin.  For example, let's say I believe the sky is blue because a fortune teller told me in a trance.  The genetic fallacy is to say "a fortune teller told you the sky was blue in a trance, with is stupid and ridiculous, therefore, you're wrong, the sky isn't blue".  In reality, how I came to know that the sky was blue don't allow you to dismiss my claim solely for that reason.  You'd have to show that the sky is in fact not blue by some other means.

  4. That was a terrible example of the genetic fallacy. Reputations lost, must be earned back. Should a credit card company give a credit card with a 100,000 credit limit to someone who doesn't pay their bills on time and has defaulted on loans?

  5. I've also studied philosophy and after learning about fallacies, I'm very concerned, because they appear too often. People often make claims, state things that are not necessarily true. While I see the problem in only stating the obvious, some things, should have researched these things. An example could be politicians using fallacies almost exclusively.
    Also people who haven't learned about fallacies and critical thinking often makes fallacious judgements about their current situation or other people.
    The world could indeed be a much better place if philosophy was mandatory world wide.

  6. While it is true that this is a fallacy, it may help guide how much time we're willing to spend evaluating a claim… there's a reason we all do it.

  7. There is an entire category for discrediting an argument because someone is a women? I almost never see that happen, but maybe it happens a lot in places outside the US?

  8. My FWB commits the fellatio fallacy. She suggests that she doesn't gain anything from it. Yet, she is gaining a nutritional benefit from it. Consequently, she must be trying to also create a new fallacy, the Ad Masculium fallacy, just to spite my maleness and make me feel bad.

  9. G) Given that all of Ronald Reagan's policies were the right thing to do (implicit premise) and the differences between his policies and the proposed policy are so small as to be negligible (charitable interpretation of 'similar') and context has not changed relevantly (implicit premise), it follows that this IS the right thing to do. This is an argument from credibility.

  10. are male and white and black people also getting their own fallacy or do we rank too high on your "progressive stack" for special treatment?

  11. Can anyone help me with the following:

    It is good to do X to Y.

    All Y's are Z

    Therefore, it is good to do X to Z.

    I would like to know if it's valid or invalid. Why or why not?

  12. LOL, your brain on feminism when need to assign a whole fallacy to Females. Because being granted all the rights of a democracy without any of the burdens of military service, doing fewer hours in less demanding jobs and demanding more money, less jail time for same crimes, always having the benefit of the doubt in domestic disputes, having a monopoly on all crisis housing forcing men onto the streets, having twice as much money spent on female related disease research, complaining females are the sole victim of violence when more than double the number of men are assaulted and murdered, from a young age the opposite sex getting instructions not to ever hit females, being socially acceptable to marry for money, being able to produce offspring grating females an essential status regardless of my mate value society has organized fertility clinics and social welfare programs that will allow me to have children and provide for them should I choose to reproduce without a mate or marriage, at any time females can abandon their parental responsibilities with little or no social stigma and hand the child over to the state or abort the pregnancy a male could never relieve himself of this burden unless the female allows it, being pampered and paid for on dates, desciminating againts the opposite sex ruthlessly without social penalty, a department of women’s health whereas men have no such department, consuming the lioness’ share of entitlement programs while men contribute the lion’s share of taxes and etc etc etc is just not enough we need to invent fallacies for females as well.

  13. Have You Seen any videos by ImprovementPill I love the the style of Video I'm gonna call it
    A Educational "POVCAD" (Point of View Computer-Aided Drawing) Video
    and I kinda sounds like "PODCAST"
    Good Video😁

  14. I hated it so much when you assigned a different category for Ad Hominem based on gender.
    Oh sorry, it's not gender, it's SPECIFICALLY a fallacy for Ad Hominem based on Femininity.
    How can someone who specializes in logical fallacies, not see through the outright stupidity of that? I hate it so much when YouTubers sneak in these Liberal talking points into normal analysis videos, as though they are FACTS and not things that are heavily being debated right now.
    Fuck this shit. I'm done! I'm taking the Red Pill.

  15. The last one's just Feminist bloviation. See what I did there, lol? Truthfully, it's not a legitimate subcategory as pointed out in earlier posts. All it does is advocate for an "Ad Masculinam" (probably not the right Latin grammar term) countervailing subcategory and the ocean of polemical drool resultantly grows ever larger. Women do and say dumb stuff. Men do and say dumb stuff. Kids do and say dumb stuff. It's a design flaw of the species.

  16. I come to this channel to study for my philosophy tests. Pushing feminist politics here is not helping.

  17. Would not be the argument of how much money I have regarding how much I have to give to charity a Circumstantial Ad Hominem ?

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