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Ad hominem arguments try to discredit a claim or proposal by attacking its proponents instead of providing a reasoned examination of the proposal itself Hence ad hominem literally means against the person Ad hominem arguments come in at least five varieties viz abusive guilt by association tu quoque vested interest and circumstantial arguments In this paper I shall analyse the five different ad hominem arguments and argue that although the majority of ad hominem arguments are fallacious there are cases where it is justified and not fallacious And accordingly I shall argue that ad hominem arguments are related to the human condition and so put forward a way of dealing with them Ad hominem abusive arguments attack a persons age character family gender ethnicity social or economic status personality appearance dress behavior or professional political or religious affiliations And this list is by no way exhaustive This argument often occurs in the political arena where a politicians reputation can be the difference between being re-elected or not A simple ad hominem abusive argument Daisy Tinkerbell Earthsaver advocates recycling all household goods Daisy Tinkerbell Earthsaver is a hippy We should not recycle household goods Just because Daisy is a hippie this has no bearing on whether we should recycle or not To dismiss Daisys argument simply because she is a hippie that is to dismiss her argument because of whom she is rather than what she says is to commit the ad hominem abusive fallacy The conclusions of such arguments are often left implicit or conveyed by innuendo Some arguments against the person are based on libel slander or character assassination In such cases the premises are false as well as irrelevant Arguing in this way often occurs in court cases where conclusive evidence is in short supply A lawyer may argue in this way to induce doubt in the minds of the jury as to the trustworthiness of people giving evidence However
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