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"Accuses Secretary Dulles," Library of Congress, P & P Online, LC-USZ62-132247Ad Hominem and Related Arguments: Ad Personem, ad Feminam, Tu Quoque, Poisoning the Well, Guilt by Association, and Genetic Fallacy

Abstract: The argument whereby attention is drawn to a person's character or circumstances rather than evaluating that person's claims is characterized with examples and shown to be sometimes persuasive but normally fallacious. Not all are fallacious in the same manner. Related appeals in reasoning examined here include the ad personam, tu quoque, ex concessis, poisoning the well, guilt by association, ad feminam, and genetic fallacies, among others. Nonfallacious uses of argumentum ad hominem are also examined even though many logic textbooks mistakenly simply define all ad hominem arguments as fallacies.

  1. ad Hominem Fallacy: (abusive and circumstantial): the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of seeking to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the fallacy is characterized simply as a personal attack.

    Informal Guide to ad Hominem

    Person L proffers claim y.

    Person L's circumstance or character is unsatisfactory (or desirable), or L does not act in accordance with y.

    Claim y is implausible or unlikely (in the case of unsatisfactory character), or claim y is plausible or likely (in the case of desirable character).

    1. The ad hominem abusive is the fallacy that that an agent's belief has not been proved (or is mistaken) because that person is somehow deficient as evidenced by some undesirable aspects of that person's character, personality, morality, or competence.[1] Consider this example:
      “After a 35-year career in agriculture, which took me to all corners of the world in segments ranging from animal productivity to plant protection, genetics, and biotechnology, I … reviewed Prince Charles' speech. I found foolishness and arrogant condescension.”[2]
    2. The ad hominem circumstantial is the fallacy that someone's belief has not been proved (or is mistaken because that person's position is motivated by actions or personal circumstances which most likely bias that person's judgment. This is a fairly typical example:
      “[Alger] Hiss still has a ragtag remnant of defenders, historical illiterates who are disproportionately academics. They often are the last to learn things because they have gone to earth in the groves of academe in order to live in an alternative reality.[3]
    3. Since the circumstantial variety of the ad hominem fallacy can often be regarded as a special case of the abusive in that it is an indirect personal attack, the distinction between the ad hominem abusive and the ad hominem circumstantial is in some contexts ignored as an inconsequential distinction.[3.1]

    4. Occasionally, in the literature, the definition of argumentum ad hominem includes arguments that someone's belief is true or probable because that person's character or circumstances is eminent or trustworthy.[4] Such virtue argumentation or positive ethotic arguments are relevant in the evaluation of evidence in witness testimony.[5] Christopher Johnson points out:
      [T]he stronger or coherent the character portrait that develops from consideration of these virtues and traits, the more compelling the ad hominem appeal, and the less the objection of ad hominem fallacy, in making a decision between arguments.”[6]
    5. Most textbook accounts of ad hominem arguments assume all instances are mistakes in reasoning since the evaluation of arguments depends on the nature or the argument rather than the character of the arguer. On this view, the argument, itself, is to be evaluated, not the individual adducing the argument. However, an ad hominem argument can be transposed as Merilee Salmon has proposed into a (formal) inductive argument[7] :
      Most of what person L states about subject S is true.
      Person L states claim c on subject S.

      Claim c is probably true.
      Christian Dahlman, et. al have proposed an intriguing formal approach to the ad hominem arguments which provides a more consistent and thorough description its subtypes. They propose reconstruction of ad hominem arguments as deductively valid arguments with a false premise and then classify the kind of arguments in terms of the kind of false premise.[7-1] This approach works well as a principle of organization, but neglects the character of informal arguments as providing degrees of support and different standards of evidence rather than limiting informal logic to appraisal in terms of deductive inferences.[7-2]

      Presently, informal logic is characterized by its lack of formal structure and can be viewed as an activity of discourse where an arguer's character or circumstances lend credibility to that individual's claims. So, on this point of view, informal logic is concerned with pragmatic analysis of dialectical interaction in discourse rather than the textual analysis of the logic of statements as is realized in deductive logic. Argumentative discourse, oral or written, is meant to resolve a difference of opinion, but sometimes the use of an ad hominem fallacy is a tactic to disqualify an opponent's arguments from the discussion.

  2. Argumentum ad Hominem: reasoning by appealing to the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a claim in order to determine the plausibility of that claim. The argumentum ad hominem is not always fallacious, an individual's personal character and circumstances are sometimes logically related to the issues under discussion.[8] As Douglas Walton notes, “Evaluation of each individual case should be made in relation to the corpus of argument and the context of dialogue.”[9]

    1. The informal fallacy of argumentum ad hominem occurs when an examination of issues is discontinued in pursuance of an irrelevant personal attack against the advocate of the issues — e.g., impeaching the testimony of a reliable eye witness to a felony.

      1. When an examination of issues is logically benefited by reference to the character or circumstances of an individual, no informal fallacy occurs — e.g., impeaching the testimony of a visually impaired eye witness to a felony.

      2. Note that for the argumentum ad hominem fallacy to occur, (1) an irrelevant appeal is made and (2) a (logical) argument must be present.

    2. The commonsensical assumptions upon which the argumentum ad hominem is based generally include (1) the belief that flawed persons are not credible or logical or, as well, in a different case, (2) the belief that decent persons are trustworthy and reasonable.

    3. The fallacy version of ad hominem draws its appeal from the technique of “getting personal.” But the fallacy does not occur when unfavorable evidence adduced for the accused proponent is logically dependent on the argument being put forward by the proponent. If the grounds for the claim are logically independent of the antagonist's argument, then the claim, not being relevant, is to be assessed in accordance with other (relevant) reasons. As James Cargile writes, “[E]vidence that the source of a claim is likely to be wrong is not evidence against the claim. The tendency to overlook this is the essential feature of the ad hominem fallacy.[10]

    4. Unfortunately, a criterion of relevance (or for that matter, a criterion of irrelevance) associating the circumstances and character of an arguer to the arguer's argument is extraordinarily difficult to establish for all types of ad hominem arguments. What is relevant to a particular argument depends upon the context within which the argument is proposed. Currently, difficult cases are hashed out in reasoned dialogue, although, it must be admitted, the fallaciousness of many individual occurrences of argumentum ad hominem is in dispute in the current informal fallacy literature. This defeasibility of ad hominem arguments is shown by the presence of other factors in some arguments which render exception to the charge of fallacious reasoning. For the most part, relevance in informal logic is taken to be undefined: a primitive term or an intuitive notion.[10-1]

      Simply criticizing an adversary as a digression from a controversy is not an ad hominem fallacy unless the personal attack is intended to dismiss the adversary's arguments unrelated to the adversary's character.

      Stephen Toulmin states, ”[R]elevance is a substantive matter, to be discussed in science by scientists, in law by lawyers, and so on. there are very few ‘conditions of relevance’ of an entirely general kind that hold good in all fields and forums and apply to apply types of arguments.[10-2]
  3. Although there is no generally accepted consensus, many logicians today distinguish several prevailing indistinct varieties of fallacies related to the argumentum ad hominem fallacy:

    1. In the ad personam fallacy the statement or argument at issue is dropped from consideration or is completely ignored, and the adversary's character or circumstances is subjected to personal attack.[11] Recently in several logic textbooks, the ad personam is taken to be a name replacement for the traditional ad hominem because ad hominem, which means “‘to’ or ‘toward’ a human being (or the person),” might be misinterpreted if the Latin phrase is translated to mean “‘to’ or ‘toward’ the man.” This latter translation may well be part of the reason some recent writers have added the separate fallacy of ad feminam to their list of informal fallacies[12], a fallacy defined as an attack on a woman's character or circumstances in order to cast doubt on her claims.

      1. Consider this example of an ad personam (which can also be classified as either an ad hominem abusive fallacy or a name calling fallacy):
        “Secretary of State John Kerry says that there is less violence than usual in the world right now. Meanwhile the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, says the opposite, that terrorism is more violent and dangerous than ever. Since Clapper is Director of National Intelligence, maybe Kerry should have the title Director of National Stupidity.“[13]
      2. A well known ad personam example of the ad hominem (circumstantial) variety is Voltaire's criticism of Rousseau's Emile, or Treatise on Education by reason of Rousseau's dereliction of his own children:
        “Excessive pride and envy have destroyed Jean-Jacques, my illustrious philosopher. That monster dares speak of education! He abandoned his children and the tramp with whom he made them.”[14]
        Voltaire dismisses Rousseau's theory of education on account of Rousseau's hypocrisy in sending his children, on the occasion of their birth, to the Paris Foundling Hospital.

    2. The tu quoque fallacy, where the proponent responds to an ad hominem attack with the same accusation against the person to whom the proponent is confronting, is a narrower form of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy. In other words, rather than trying to disprove an accuser's proposed argument against one's own position, one responds by asserting that the same kind of argument applies to the accuser. The inconsistency of a claimant is shown by accusing the claimant of the same sort of allegation for which a proponent has been denounced. Consequently, what the accuser accuser does and what the accuser says are shown to be at variance.

      Informal Guide to Tu Quoque

      Person L proffers negative claim y against person M.

      Person M retorts same negative claim y applies against person L.

      Person M is exonerated.

      Whenever the response in kind to an advocates' claim or argument does not involve a personal attack either of character or circumstances, the tu quoque fallacy would not be considered a type of ad hominem fallacy.[15]

      1. In cross examination or in debate, the tu quoque fallacy is sometimes depicted as “My argument might be bad, but yours is worse.” Thus, the conversational implication is my argument is good by way of comparison. Note that this fallacy is usually only rhetorically effective in the presence of a third party.[16]

      2. If the basis of dispute is the criticism of a someone's argument, the fallacy can be summarized as “O.K., I understand your criticism of my contention, but the same criticism you point out applies to your thinking as well.” As Aristotle wrote, “[F]or it is the absurdity of impudence to arraign others for the very same things of which we ourselves have been guilty,”[17] and again, “The second way is, when a defender discredits his accuser, by retorting his own accusations.”[18]

      3. E.g., consider this anecdote told by an early feminist social reformer:
        “In the discussion after a Forum lecture in Boston, an address on some aspect of the Woman question, a man in the gallery, who evidently took exception to a dull rose fillet I wore in my hair, demanded to know how women could expect to equal men ‘so long as they took so much time fixing up their hair and putting ribbons in it’? There was some commotion, and cries of ‘Put him out!’ but I grinned up at him cheerfully and replied, ‘I do not think it has been yet established whether it takes a woman longer to do her hair than it does a man to shave.’ This was not an answer at all, but it seemed to please every one but the inquirer.”[19]
        Notice how the lecturer recognizes the irrelevancy of her response to the audience member's impertinent remark.

      4. The imputation of tu quoque can be defended by pointing out essential differences between the accusation of the arguer and the accusation of the critic. However, the supposed difference of transgressions can only be determined individually by sorting out the transgressions.

      5. A fallacy closely related to tu quoque is the fallacy of two wrongs make a right — in fact, some logic texts equate the two fallacies. The two wrongs-fallacy attempts to rationalize the rightness of a wrong action on the basis that the action is merely a justified response to a previous occurring wrong action of another or of a similar kind.

        1. Since the relationships among the ad hominem circumstantial, the tu quoque and the two wrongs fallacy are classified differently in the current logic literature, it's perhaps prudent not to insist upon distinct definitions.

        2. Usually, however, in the two wrongs fallacy, the first wrong is not taken as an ad hominem recrimination, whereas in the tu quoque fallacy, the initial wrong is taken as an ad hominem attack.[19-1]

        3. A fairly typical example of the two-wrongs fallacy is that reported of a London music dealer who was brought before the London Magistrates' Court charged with pirating music:
          “His excuse, such as it was, had not even the merit of novelty, although he pleaded that he sold pirated music on principle and not for profit! He said that there was a music right in London, which certainly paid royalties to authors who could command their prices, but they said nothing of the small authors, whom they bled for all they were worth. The charge for music was extortionate and exorbitant, but he had no wish to rob an author, who had a right to the value of his work.[19-2]
          The music dealer pleaded that since the publisher paid composers so meagerly and sold the music so substantially, he was justified in freebooting. The magistrate noted the two-wrongs fallacy that robbing a music publisher does not benefit the author of the music and so ruled guilty and imposed a fine.

    3. The argument from commitment (or what is sometimes designated the ex concessis argument) is a purported proof relative to a specific person's previous behavior or belief. The fallacy occurs whenever an opponent is charged with taking a position or acting in such a manner which conflicts with, or is inconsistent with, some previous position to which the opponent has accepted. The basis of the fallacy is the comparison of two conflicting positions of the proponent with whom someone is deliberating. The point of the charge of mistaken reasoning is since the two positions differ, the later position must be mistaken.[20]

      Informal Guide to Ex Concessis

      Person L proffers claim c.
      Person L previously held views inconsistent with claim c

      Claim c is implausible or unlikely.

      1. This form of the fallacy is committed when someone is accused of being hypocritical and is personally accused of not believing in, or not acting in accordance with, commitments he has taken on another occasion. Nevertheless, the reason this argument is defective is that even hypocrites are capable of espousing good arguments.[21]

      2. Interestingly, in the 1850's, William and Robert Chambers argued that this kind of argumentum ad hominem can be viewed as legitimate in cases where the conclusion is the exception to a rule. The preceding belief is expressed in the book of Exodus, where God said to Moses:
        “Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore: for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.”[22]
        Yet, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus justifies to a group of Pharisees (religious leaders who based Judaism in part on the Laws of Moses) his task of healing on the Sabbath as follows as an exception to the law:
        “2 And, behold there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
        3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
        4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
        5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightaway pull him out on the sabbath day?
        6 And they could not answer him again to these things.”[23]
    4. Obviously, a simple inconsistency in thought or action is not a fallacy unless the inconsistency is part of the same argument under consideration. The ex concessis variety of the ad hominem fallacy occurs when the previous commitment or position is not specifically germane to the specific subject under consideration.

      1. A good example of the ex concessis fallacy constructed by Scott Aikin is entitled “Altarbor Atheist”:
        [Person] A: There's no answer to the problem of evil God doesn't exist — if he does, he's certainly not worthy of our worship.
        [Person] B: You can't possibly really believe that — you were an altarboy.[24]
      2. The ex concessis form of the fallacy is committed when an interlocutor states that his opponent's argument must be mistaken because his opponent has previously given an argument which is inconsistent with the present argument. But the fact that the opponent might, at one time, have believed something different from what the present argument provides, does not necessarily imply the present argument or claim is mistaken.

      3. Schopenhauer clarifies another variant of this form of fallacious reasoning: “Should your opponent be in the right, but luckily for your contention, choose a faulty proof, you can easily manage to refute it, and then claim you have refuted his whole position. This trick … is, at bottom, an expedient by which an argumentum ad hominem is put forward … ” [25]

      4. Here's a typical example of the Ad hominem ex concessis fallacy:
        “[An] octogenarian professor from the University of Texas named Lino Graglia … dutifully informed the committee that ‘a law ending birthright citizenship should and likely would survive constitutional challenge.’ But consider the source: a man who by his own account takes ‘a very limited view of the power of the Supreme Court‘ and breezily dismisses contrary precedents.”[26]
  4. Other fallacies associated with, or overlapping with, the main types of ad hominem outlined above include the personal attack, name calling, and poisoning the well, guilt (or honor) by association, and the genetic fallacy.

    1. The personal attack fallacy is often regarded as a harsh ad hominem abusive fallacy, but it can also occur as an ad hominem circumstantial fallacy. Note the disproportionate criticism in the following example:
      “We hold that the deceitful and vacuous writings presented by Lyotard, and by many of his fellow postmodernists, are texts that purposely lead their readers to stray into errancy. … Often, they reject all and any truth, and merely spread ignorance and mendacity. Hence, these deceitful vacuous writings belong in the dustbin of history!”[27]
    2. The fallacy of name calling, also often a variant of the ad hominem abusive fallacy, occurs on those occasions where loaded or negatively-slanted epithets or appellations characterizing a speaker are used to cast doubt on the worth of the speaker's beliefs. Often such insults are used to devalue the opposition's arguments or beliefs.

      1. For the name-calling fallacy to occur, the critic must have used irrelevant name calling as a reason for doubting the advocate's argument or conclusion. Thus, any evidence of the name's propriety is not necessarily evidence against the argument or conclusion itself.

      2. The following point of view is a typical example of name calling:
        “Justice Antonin Scalia was right. Not about gay marriage, of course. Scalia is so antediluvian he has trouble forcing himself to call it by its proper name.”[28]
        The ad hominem fallacy occurs here since the writer asserts that the reason Supreme Court Justice Scalia does not use the proper term for same sex marriage is that the Justice is antediluvian.

      3. Note that simply using abusive names to belittle a person is not fallacious in itself. Occasionally name calling is done in order to divert attention away from the argument under discussion. The following passage seems fallacious, but it is an instance of nonargumentative name calling. Lexically, the example can be properly termed an ad hominem, but, logically, not an ad hominem fallacy.
        “Politicians and lawyers pretend they are important people doing important work, but often they're important because they are parasites. They feed off others, while creating no wealth of their own.[29]
    3. The fallacy of poisoning the well is, in a sense, a kind of preemptive ad hominem argument. In poisoning the well, a disputant claims that an adversary's arguments cannot be trusted to be credible because of an adversary's prior fixed opinion or previous commitment. Such a person is said to be untrustworthy in present assertions because, it is claimed, that person has always been prejudiced and narrow-minded. In nearly all poisoning-the-well examples a person's motives are used to attempt to discredit the claims of that person and so are instances of the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy.[30]

      Poisoning the Well Informal Guide

      Person L proclaims person M has an objectionable standpoint or associations.

      Person M's claims are implausible or unlikely.

      1. Since we normally assess the truth of a claim by a body of existing beliefs, if the existing belief-set is suspect, then our ability to assess the claim is seriously undermined. So in the fallacy of poisoning the well, odious information about an adversary is preemptively adduced in order to discredit any possible response made by the opponent.[31]

        The fallacy is illustrated in the following example where a conservative British politician's assessment of the European Union referendum and Brexit are thwarted by this criticism:
        “The poisonous rancour of Norman Tebbit is nothing new, but even their lordships gasped at his complaint about ‘looking after foreigners and not the British.’”[32]
      2. E.g., consider the following example of accusing an opponent of the kind of fixed bias implicit in poisoning the well:
        “Michael closed his eyes as if to shut out the world around him. ‘You'll never understand what it means to swear allegiance to the flag and to your country. You'll never understand what it means to be a soldier.’
        [Samantha] ‘You're right, Michael, I don't understand, and I will never understand why men have to kill each other. It is beyond my comprehension why you had to fight in this useless war. A war that is so wrong and should have never happened.’”[33]
        Michael's argument here is that since Samantha cannot understand what it means to be a soldier, she cannot understand the values of a soldier.

      3. In gender studies, for example, poisoning the well occurs when it is sometimes assumed that women and men will never understand each other's point of view because of their inherent differences. From the outset, this assumption forestalls the possibility of a common neutral understanding and sets up an irremediable barrier to meaningful interactive discourse. When examined, such a presupposition would imply that no one could ever understand anything inherently different from one's own point of view. Ultimately, examples such as this one are fraught with difficulties similar to the intractable problem of other minds. For this reason, these types of poisoning the well can be rhetorically defended via a tu quoque maneuverer:
        Mary: Your views on limited government can have no possible standing because you're a Republican, and it's a view all Republicans are necessarily possessed by.

        John: Well, of course, you cannot understand the need for a limited government since that wouldn't support your own interests as a Democrat.
        I.e., John returns the same kind of biased-based poisoning-the-well disqualification to Mary.[34]

    4. The fallacy of guilt by association, a fallacy resembling in some ways poisoning the well, often makes use of ad hominem considerations. In the fallacy of guilt by association, the contentions or arguments of a proponent are judged on the basis of the proponent's discredited or suspicious affiliations. Thus, the adversary's position is attacked on the grounds that the adversary belongs to some kind of questionable or suspect social group. The allegation is as follows: because the advocate is somehow affiliated with a discredited enterprise, the agent's claims are not credible. The positive analogue of this fallacy is honor by association where an advocate is connected to an esteemed group and is thereby considered credible. The fallacy of honor by association is one aspect of the cognitive bias first named by Edward Thorndike as the halo effect. Psychologically, a person is often judged in accordance with judgments about associated persons, but this judgment only carries logical import when that association is relevant to the issue at hand.[34-a]

      Informal Guide to Guilt (or Honor) By Association

      Person L proffers claim c.
      Person L has qualities in common with disreputable (or reputable, if by honor) group G.

      Person L's character is disreputable (or reputable, if by honor) or claim c is implausible (or plausible, if by honor).

      1. Many instances of this fallacy are instances of what Stuart Chase has termed “guilt-by-verbal-association,” and not physical association. These examples are clearly imparted as examples of the syllogistic formal fallacy of the undistributed middle term. Chase formalizes an example which was used by the real estate lobby during the McCarthy era in the U.S.:
        Communists are in favor of government housing.
        Sen. Taft is in favor of government housing.

        Therefore Sen. Taft is a Communist.
        As Chase points out, “It is the standard bludgeon of what we now call ‘McCarthyism.”[34-1]

      2. And here's a more recent example of what might be called guilt-by-physical-association:
        “[Rep. Michele] Bachmann has raised questions about Huma Abedin, a Muslim-American, who is deputy chief of staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Bachmann's concern is Abedin's relatives in the Middle East some of whom — such as Abedin's mother — she claims ‘are connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations.’ Abedin's job, according to Bachmann, ‘affords her routine access to the secretary and to policy making.’ And, as a result of that access, says Bachmann, ‘the State Department, and in several cases, the specific direction of the secretary of state, have taken actions recently that have been enormously favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood and its interests.’” [35]
    5. The genetic fallacy can converge with the ad hominem circumstantial and abusive fallacies, but not all variations involve personal attacks. The genetic fallacy is an irrelevant attempt to refute or establish a claim or argument on the basis of its origin or history. The mistake in reasoning occurs because the historical temporal or causal origins of a viewpoint is confused with its logical or justifiable merit.[36] In examples of the genetic fallacy the discourse of a historical account is different from the discourse of an analytical account. Some logicians maintain that ad hominem arguments involve single person and group sources whereas genetic arguments involve only group or circumstantial sources — other logicians do not make this distinction.

      Informal Structure of Genetic Fallacy

      Standpoints of a group or circumstance x are the historical source of conception or claim y.

      [Where standpoint or circumstance x or aspects of x are irrelevant to understanding conception or claim y.]

      Conception or claim y is unlikely.

      The source of how evidence is obtained is often irrelevant to logical significance of the evidence. I.e., the logical correctness of an argument is usually independent of the source or historical origin of that argument. The correctness of a conception should be judged on its own basis rather than judged on the basis of its sources or adherents.

      1. If the origin of an argumentative claim arises from an agent or person of some kind, the cogency of that claim or belief is not justified when the source is not logically related to the claim. A claim is to be justified on the basis of its own merit.

        1. Here's a brief allusion to a fallacy which can be properly reconstructed as an ad hominem fallacy or a genetic fallacy:
          “Would one regard a theorem in mathematics less praiseworthy because its discoverer was uneducated, or otherwise disreputably credentialed?”[37]
        2. James William Lett provides two interesting examples of this type of genetic fallacy:
          “Alfred Russell Wallace reportedly conceived the principle of natural selection while in a delirium; to dismiss the theory of evolution of that basis would be to commit the genetic fallacy. Postmodernists who reject scientific claims to knowledge on the grounds that those claims emerged from the hegemonic discourse of a powerful elite are likewise guilty of the genetic fallacy.”[38]
          Note the overlap in Lett's Postmodernist example of the genetics fallacy with the fallacy of poisoning the well.

      2. A second type of genetic fallacy occurs often in the sciences where an entity, state, or activity is reduced to, or identified with, the phenomena or physical processes which occasion it.

        1. E.g., William R. Klemm appears to commit this fallacy when he writes:
          “[C]onsciousness is constituted by neural events and does not have to intervene in neural processes because consciousness is a neural process.”[39]
          Simply because consciousness arises from neural events, it does not necessarily follow that consciousness, itself, is the same thing as a series of neural events.

        2. The mind-brain identity theory is often challenged on the same basis:
          “The classic mind-brain identity theory, according to which pain is necessarily C-fiber stimulation, does not allow for pain to be anything other than C-fiber stimulation.”[40]
          The basis for the charge of mistaken reasoning is the claim that since pain originates in C-fiber stimulation, pain is nothing but C-fiber stimulation.

      3. A third type of genetic fallacy is the presumption that a descriptive historical account of the origin of biological, psychological or ethical aspects of organisms is always sufficient for a logical understanding or a normative justification.

        E.g., Peter Godfrey-Smith points to the tenuousness of Thomas Nagel's suggestion that the use of reason should be justifiable on the basis of its biological origin:
        “Nagel does not merely ask for an explanation of how our powers of reasoning come to exist, and how they came to work as well as they do, but also asks that the evolutionary story give us ‘grounds for trusting’ them. This is a demand, though, that no evolutionary account needs to meet.[41]
      4. A fourth form of the genetic fallacy is based upon a distinction made by Hans Reichenbach which “springs from a confusion of context of discovery and context of justification.”
        “The act of discovery escapes logical analysis; there are no logical rules in terms of which a ‘discovery machine’ could be constructed that would take over the creative function of the genius. But it is not the logician's task to account for scientific discoveries; all he can do is to analyze the relation between given facts and a theory presented to him with the claim that it explains these facts. In other words, logic is concerned only with the context of justification.”[42]
        1. The context of discovery is examined through descriptive and explicative methods of empirical inquiry, whereas the context of justification is the logical analysis of the resultant outcomes of discovery. Karl Popper states, “The question how it happens that a new idea occurs to a man … may be of great interest to empirical psychology; but it is irrelevant to the logical analysis of scientific knowledge. This latter is concerned not with question of fact … but on with questions of justification or validity.”[43]

        2. Reichenbach and Popper, notwithstanding, in some arguments factors in the context of discovery are relevant to the import of the conclusion. Often discoveries are made solely by logical reasoning in mathematics and the theoretical sciences. As well, justification in various modes of inquiry often evolves as addition data is adduced. Falsification by means of further discovery can alter theoretical conclusions. In such cases, a premise stating a relationship between discovery and theory can be correctly part of the context of justification. Obviously, such genetic arguments as these require valuation on a case-by-case basis.

          E.g., in some cases the evolutionary and historical origins of psychological, religious, political, and ethical metaphysical entities or doctrines are rendered less likely since they are satisfactorily accounted for on empirical principles and the principle of simplicity — including such areas of inquiry as the varieties of conflicting religious beliefs including interpretation of doctrines; altered states of consciousness including mystical, out-of-body, and deja vu experiences; and varieties of conflicting political systems; as well as biological origins of some ethical intuitions.[44]

      5. Richard Kitchener considers a number of arguments against the genesis–justification distinction, including arguments against the kinds of genetic arguments raised above:
        (1) the fact–norm distinction,
        (2) the discovery–justification distinction,
        (3) the conceptual–empirical distinction, and, following Quine,[44-1]
        (4) the analytic–synthetic distinction.
        His arguments indirectly indicate that a genetic epistemology is possible; hence, Kitchener effectively shows the possibility of the relevance of discovery or genesis of an idea to its justification.[44-2] Consequently, with genetic arguments, the question of relevance is crucial in assessing the inferential legitimacy of the argument.

      6. In the following definitions from Dagobert Runes' Dictionary of Philosophy, Ledger Wood limits the application of the genetic fallacy to instances where the original source is deprecated:
        Genetic Fallacy: The misapplication of the genetic method resulting in the depreciatory appraisal of the product of a historical or evolutionary process because of its lowly origin.

        Genetic Method: Explanation of things in terms of their origin or genesis.”[45]
        The definition of the genetic fallacy, however, is inaccurate since the definition of “fallacy” is broadened here to include an error of explanation involving negative emotive significance, whereas in logical inquiry, the term “fallacy” is usually defined in terms of a mistake in reasoning in arguments. I.e., the mistakes in reasoning are not that the explanation is in error and that the appraisal is negative (or positive). The mistake of the genetic fallacy is in the denial of the truth of an issue on the basis of the irrelevancy of its historical origins.

      7. Not all genetic accounts are defective arguments, and many are controversial. In some cases cognizance of the origins of a viewpoint or conclusion is in fact an inference to the best explanation in inductive argumentation. An evolutionary account of the development of the origin of religious or logical thinking is not always an irrelevant consideration in assessing its trustworthiness even though such an account is not deductively certain.

        1. Kim Sterelny concludes: “[T]he so-called ‘genetic fallacy’ (the erroneous supposition that a defect in the genesis of something is evidence that discredits the thing itself) need be no fallacy. A causal account of the origins and maintenance of belief can undermine that belief's rational warrant.”[46]

        2. The structure or correctness of a conception or argument is not necessarily logically independent of the prevailing conditions under which it came to be discovered. Sometimes the understanding of a conception is constitutively reliant on the circumstances of its discovery and development. Thus, a historically descriptive account of how a judgment commences is sometimes essentially relevant to the epistemological status of that judgment. In general, if the argument involves a justification for a person's belief, then how that person arrived at that belief can be relevant. However, if the argument is about the truth of the belief, then how that person arrived at that belief is unlikely to be relevant.

  5. Several considerations for evaluating ad hominem passages deserve comment:

    1. In the examination of scientific, literary or philosophical works, looking at the author's character or circumstance can sometimes provide insight into that individual's standpoint. In other words, ad hominem considerations can show motives and can sometimes provide a frame of reference for deeper comprehension. However, these perspectives do not ordinarily demonstrate the truth or falsity of the ideas. Consider the following passage:
      “John Stacy … made the connection between the radical power of Byron's poetics and his Satanic as well as melancholic genius. Accusing Byron of a ‘misanthropy run mad,’ of trying ‘to make the world believe he is miserable, and to persuade it to be as miserable as himself’, the author writes ‘I grant him genius …, an eloquence of poetry …’”47]
      The suggestion that the brilliance of Lord Byron's poetry might be due to his manic-depressive illness is a literary insight into the possible literary effect of specific characteristics of Byron's personality. No fallacy occurs here because no argument is present.

    2. The character of a person is often relevant for an evaluation of the sincerity of views being offered and so can be relevant for pragmatic decision-making.

      E.g., D. M. Varisco explains the necessity of having awareness of Edward Said's circumstances in order to make sense of Said's 1978 polemical book Orientalism objecting to the presumption of Western superiority in its patronizing description of the Eastern World:
      “From the start the reactions to Orientalism ranging from the ad hoc to the ad hominem, read into Said the critic as well and as poorly as into what the critic was saying. Said's origins and political activism as an Arab-American intellectual can hardly be left out of analysis.”[48]
    3. A fallacy might occur in passages such as these if the work were to be considered misguided and discredited solely because of the degenerate character and circumstances of the author. The essential question in judging whether or not an ad hominem argument is a fallacy is whether or not the author's character and circumstances are logically relevant to the assertions or the arguments in the work itself.

  6. Non-fallacious uses of the ad hominem can occur in diverse descriptive and rhetorical contexts. When evidence about a person's character or circumstances is adduced to disclose the motive for that person's assertion, rather than to dispute the assertion itself, such instances often involve the presence of a causal explanation rather than the presence of an argument.

    1. In arguments where the character or circumstances are relevant to the substance of the argument, no fallacy occurs. E.g., the following passage is not fallacious:
      “If [Thomas] Jefferson's relationship with [Sally] Hemings began in the late 1780's, it would mean that he began to back away from a leadership position in the anti-slavery movement just around the time that his affair with Sally Hemings started. Jefferson's stated reservations about ending slavery included a fear that emancipation would lead to racial mixing and amalgamation. His own interracial affair now personalizes this issue, while adding a dimension of hypocrisy.”[49]
      The hypothesis is proposed that Jefferson's relationship with Hemings abated his reservations toward the anti-slavery movement.

    2. Moreover, if a speaker merely responds to an accusation pertaining to his character or circumstances by retorting that the accuser also has the same or similar character or circumstances, no fallacy necessarily occurs if there is no (logical) argument present. In other words, if a disputant's rejoinder of the same non-argumentative accusation exhibits the rhetoric of tu quoque, it is not necessarily an instance of the tu quoque fallacy unless the claim is implicit that the rejoinder is intended to disqualify some sort of argumentative criticism from the accuser.

      Consider this example of a non-fallacious tu quoque and simple name-calling from a play:
      “BLONDEL (indignantly).—You are not one of my century, or you would not be so discourteous. Sir, you are an anachronism.

      TELL.—Sir, you are another.”[50]
      In this exchange, there is just an exchange of incivility.

    3. The truth or falsity of a what is said does not depend on the character of the person saying it, unless what is said is directly applicable to the person saying it. E.g., William James famously distinguishes two philosophical temperaments:
      “The history of philosophy is a clash of human temperaments. … Of whatever temperament a professional philosopher is, he tries, when philosophizing, to sink the fact of his temperament. … Yet his temperament really gives him a stronger bias than any of his more strictly objective premises. …I think you will practically recognize the two types of mental make-up that I mean … by the titles ‘tender-minded’ and ‘tough-minded’ respectively.”[51]
      If James were to claim that all philosophers were either tender-minded or tough-minded, but as a philosopher, he is not in either camp, then the argumentum ad hominem against him would not be deemed fallacious on account of the inconsistency of his claims.

    4. Under the U.S. Federal Rules of Evidence and Case Law there are seven proper methods of impeachment in cross-examination:

      1. Bias, interest, and motive
      2. Prior inconsistent statements
      3. Contradictory facts
      4. Prior convictions
      5. Character for untruthfulness
      6. Conduct probative of untruthfulness
      7. Learned Treatises (other admissible statements, e.g. testimony of an expert witness)[51.1]

      Circumstances such as these would ordinarily be relevant factors in judging the veracity of an individual's statements.

    5. In brief, if the characteristics of a person constitute a disconfirming instance of what that person claims, then an argumentum ad hominem is not a fallacious. If the person making a claim individually embodies a counterexample which disproves that person's own claim, then it is not a fallacy to point out this fact to that person. At the same time, many ad hominem arguments provide some evidence and in those cases cannot be considered completely irrelevant arguments.

  7. A number of logicians have argued that the argumentum ad hominem is not ever a fallacy. They argue the ad hominem has been thought fallacious since its instances do not meet the conventional logical standards of deductive validity or inductive correctness or probability.

    1. On this view, in most everyday contexts of reasoning, validity or formal inductive plausibility is out of place. Nevertheless, ad hominem considerations, it is argued, do render some evidence, however weak, and so should not be thereby presupposed to be impertinent.[52] This standpoint serves to emphasize the constitutive contextual nature of informal fallacy identifications.

    2. As mentioned before, when the character or circumstances of an individual are relevant to what that person advances as a claim, the fallacy of ad hominem does not occur. For this reason, Douglas N. Walton has proposed re-naming the ad hominem abusive as the ad hominem direct to reflect the fact that the argumentum ad hominem describes both fallacious and non-fallacious arguments.[53]

      Again, as Cummings aptly notes:
      An inquiry that assumes a hierarchical structure, in which reasoning proceeds linearly from propositions that are well known to propositions that are less well known, is ill-equipped to accommodate the reasoning strategies that occur in contexts of knowledge deprivation and epistemic uncertainty.[54]
    3. Alan Brinton argues for a rhetorical rather than a logical approach to ad hominem arguments when ad hominem arguments involve the kind of rhetorical appeal based upon the speaker's character or personality when having to make a practical decision in situations of everyday uncertainty. He writes:
      “[T]he most appropriate occurrences (and probably most actual occurrences) of the ad hominem — especially in the public sphere — are to be found in contexts which are in the appropriate ways analogous to the contexts of classical oratory. It is most obviously (although not exclusively) in deliberative contexts that the ad hominem has a place and should be regarded as an acceptable form of argument. These are contexts in which there is a concern with matters of policy and practice.”[55]
      Consequently, the context in which ad hominem occurs is an essential factor in its evaluation.

  8. The following examples of the argumentum ad hominem are fairly straight-forward and are only briefly explained. In each case, note whether or not the character and/or circumstances of the individual being depicted are germane to the claims made.

ad Hominem Examples

  1. “Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State, responding to a question about former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's criticism of her in his memoir: ‘Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.’”[56]

    Comment: Rather than addressing Mr. Rumsfeld's criticism, Ms. Rice ignores the question, imputes ill-temper to him, and thereby commits the ad hominem fallacy.

  2. “[W]hen consultant/pundit/Democrat Hilary Rosen commented on CNN that Ann Romney had never held a job (and therefore was ill-suited to advise her husband on women's employment concerns), … the Catholic League … tweeted: ‘Lesbian Dem Hilary Rosen tells Ann Romney she never worked a day in her life. Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.’”[57]

    Comment: The allusion as to whether reared children are adopted or not is not directly relevant in the context provided for the purpose of deliberating women's employment concerns; thus, the ad hominem fallacy occurs.

  3. “In America, the go-to guy on ADHD is Dr. Russell Barkley … Barkley is on record saying that although behavior therapy (behavior modification) can be a useful supplementary treatment, no approach to ADHD has ever or is probably ever going to completely replace pharmaceutical therapy. In this regard it is significant to note that Barkley has had ties to … the developer of the popular ADHD drug Strattera.”[58]

    Comment: Normally the evidence for the truth or falsity of the claim would be, strictly speaking, independent of Dr. Barkley's past connections. However, Dr. Barkley's expertise cannot be entirely disregarded since his testimony and experience is relevant to the issue being discussed. Although biased innuendo is expressed against Dr. Barkley in the original dialogue, this does not necessarily result in an informal fallacy being committed since the fact of much of Dr. Barkley's background is relevant. Nevertheless, this consideration does not entirely justify Dr. Barkley assessment. The best that can be said is that calling attention to Dr. Barkley's association with the developer of an ADHD drug is uncharitable.

  4. ”President Trump is apparently convinced that his son-in-law, who serves officially as a senior adviser, can fix anything. Make that everything. … Kushner is supposed to bring the mindset and practices of the business world to the public sector. Given that his father went to jail for crimes including tax evasion, and that his boss declared four businesses bankruptcies, we can only hope Kushner looks far afield for role models.”[59]

    Comment: The implicit argument is that Jared Kushner is unlikely to be successful in his duties by the reasons that his father is a felon and Donald Trump declared bankruptcies. Hence, the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy (guilt by association) is committed.

  5. “Once he [Benjamin F. Butler] was cross-questioning a witness in his characteristic manner (with him politeness, or even humanity, was out of the question). The judge interrupted to remind him that the witness was a Harvard professor. ‘I know it, your Honor,’ replied Butler; ‘we hanged one of them the other day.’”[60]

    Comment: Mr. Butler argues that his rude cross examination of a Harvard professor is unexceptional since a Harvard professor was hanged recently — implying the witness' character is determinable by association with other Harvard professors. Again, the ad hominem circumstantial fallacy (guilt by association) is committed.

  6. ”[The New York Times] chronicled the enormous benefits French citizens receive. Paid child care, free higher education, free health care, a mandatory five weeks of paid vacation, monthly government payments for each child … There comes a point when ideology has to be put aside and what's good for the country must be embraced. France is a selfish nation that is going down the drain economically because the folks there want stuff and economics be damned.”[61]

    Comment: Although Mr. O'Reilly provides cogent reasons that government regulation and high taxes are part of an unsustainable economy, assessing reasons for this conclusion by attacking the character of the French people as wanting stuff, not caring about economics, and being selfish, is not directly relevant: ad hominem abusive.

  7. “Marvin Greenberg … spent many painful years in the garment business. As he sees it, consumers willing to pay more for better — and American — made clothes will remain a definite minority. The vast shopping public demands basement-scraping prices on two-for-one deals. Patriotism ends at the cash register. He's seen it happen. ‘Back in the '50's there was a union protest in Fall River (Mass.) about saving jobs, stopping imports,’ Greenberg recalls. ‘People carrying signs were wearing imported clothes.’”[62]

    Comment: Assuming an implicit argument, the conversational implication is that Americans will not pay more for American apparel good because even American garment workers themselves do not do so. Also the reasoning is based on one group of workers to a conclusion about all Americans and the fallacy of converse accident is suggested. Nevertheless, the implicit argument qualifies as a weak inductive argument rather than a clear fallacy.

  8. “The recent hype about global warming comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Most of its members are serious scientists. But reporters don't realize that those scientists, like bird flu specialists, have every incentive to hype the risk. If their computer models (which so far have been wrong) predict disaster, they get attention and money. If they say, “I'm not sure,” they get nothing.”[63]

    Comment: The ad hominem fallacy occurs since Mr. Stossel ignores the empirical issues relating to global warming by claiming that the conclusions of the scientists on the Intergovermental Panel are not as much based on empirical evidence as they are based upon scientists attempting to secure recognition and government funding.

  9. “Actress Salma Hayek has just been honoured at Equality Now's ‘Make Equality Reality’ event, for co-founding ‘Chime for Change’, which fights for women's rights around the world. At the ceremony, which also honoured Gloria Steinem, Hayek said: ’I am not a feminist. If men were going through the things women are going through today, I would be fighting for them with just as much passion. I believe in equality.‘ … This is about the astonishing persistence of what I'd term small-f feminist-woman. … The kind of woman, such as Hayek, who accepts an award for helping women at an event also honouring Gloria Steinem (Gloria Steinem!) and then has the graceless gall to use it as an opportunity to announce that she isn't a feminist … You have to wonder — what's with these women and their seemingly all-consuming need to distance themselves from feminism? An unworthy thought crawls through my brain: is this a man-pleasing exercise … Or does it go yet deeper, darker, than that, into the realms of female self-hatred? … While some may view this as an overreaction to some red carpet waffling, to me, this is about small-f feminist-woman and how her unique brand of self-hatred is taking far too long to die out.”[64]

    Comment: In addition to the verbal disagreement concerning the meaning of feminism, Ms. Hayek is accused of either “man pleasing” behavior or “female self-hatred” for her statement that she is not a feminist. The journalist commits an ad hominem abusive attack decorated with a persuasive definition and the fallacy of complex question.

  10. “Norman Vincent Peale, a broadcast preacher and author of The Power of Positive Thinking … said [Adlai] Stevenson was unfit to be president because he was divorced. Stevenson said: “I find the Apostle Paul appealing and the Apostle Peale appalling.”[65]

    Comment: Mr. Peale and Mr. Stevenson both commit the fallacy of ad hominem. Mr. Peale's personal attack turns on a non causa pro causa (that being divorced is a cause a being unfit for the presidency), and Mr. Stevenson's attack turns on name-calling.

  11. Huey Long (Louisiana senator, 1935): “[L]et us take a look at this NRA [Roosevelt's 1933 National Recovery Administration] that they opened up around here two years ago. They had parades and Fascist signs just as Hitler, and Mussolini. They started the dictatorship here to regiment business and labor much more than anyone did in Germany or Italy. The only difference was in the sign. Italy's sign of he Fascist was a black shirt. Germany's sign of the Fascist was a swastika. So in America they sidetracked the Stars and Stripes, and the sign of the Blue Eagle was used instead. And they proceeded with the NRA.‘[66]

    Comment: Huey Long, politician and populist, poisons the well by associating the Roosevelt administration with Fascists Hitler and Mussolini in order to castigate the National Recovery Administration, a New Deal agency. However, Long's analogue is not totally misguided as in the same year this speech was broadcast, the Supreme Court ruled the NRA unconstitutional since it violated the Constitution's separation of powers.

  12. “Traditional empiricism insists that the social identity of the observer is irrelevant to the ‘goodness’ of the results of research. It is not supposed to make a difference to the explanatory power, objectivity, and so on of the research's results if the researcher or the community of scientists are white or black, Chinese or British, rich or poor in social origin. But feminist empiricism argues that women (or feminists, male and female) as a group are more likely than men (non-feminists) as a group to produce claims unbiased by androcentrism, and in that sense objective results of inquiry. It argues that the authors of the favored social theories are not anonymous at all: they are clearly men, and usually men of the dominant classes, races, and cultures. The people who identify and define scientific problems leave their social fingerprints on the problems and their favored solutions to them.”[67]

    Comment: Certainly the claim that feminists as a group are more likely than nonfeminists to be unbiased by androcentrism (i.e., taking a masculine point of view) is trivially true. Nonetheless, the conclusion drawn that feminists are more likely to produce objective claims of inquiry than those produced by traditional empiricism does not logically follow from this tautology. Further evaluation of this argumentative passage depends to a great extent on the context of the presentation and the background assumptions upon which the argument is based. Nevertheless, the author argues that feminists, unlike nonfeminists, are not androcentric and thus produce claims which are objective results of inquiry. Since the adequacy of scientific theories is measured in part by comparison of observed results to expected results (an independent confirmation whose veracity is not dependent upon whether or not the originators of the hypotheses in question happen to be androcentric or gynocentric), the genetic fallacy occurs in this quoted selected passage. Note that biased selections of empirical observations in order to present specific points of view, whether complied intentionally or unintentionally, are precluded by traditional empiricism as improper scientific method. Additionally, scientific theories and hypotheses are repeatedly experimentally tested in accordance with procedural methods in observation and experiment as part of the normal course of scientific development. Thus, there is a justifiable “logical distinction between the psychological processes which occur when a scientist thinks of new ideas and the logical argument which exhibits the degree to which those ideas are supported by the facts and other evidential considerations.”[68]

Online Quizzes

Test your understanding of ad hominem arguments with one of the the following quizzes:

Ad Hominem Examples Exercise
Fallacies of Relevance I
Fallacies of Relevance II
Fallacies of Relevance III

Some judge of authors' names, not work, and then
Nor praise nor blame the writings, but the men.

Alexander Pope, The Works of Alexander Pope, vol. II, An Essay on Criticism (London: Longman Brown, and Co. 1847), 357.


1. Many textbooks state the argumentum ad hominem fallacy as concluding the opponent's case is false, but the non-deductive intent of such arguments makes the ad hominem “an inferential failure” whether the opponent's claim is called unproved or thought to be false. [John Woods, ”Lightening Up on the Ad Hominem,” Informal Logic 27 no. 1 (2007), 124-125. doi:10.22329/il.v27i1.467]

2. Alan Koepcke, “Aristocratic Agriculture,” Baron's 92 no. 43 (22 Oct. 2012), 54.

3. George F. Will, “The Man Who helped Kill the Soviet Union with Information,” The Washington Post

3.1. E.g., see Irving M. Copi and Carl Cohen, Introduction to Logic, 13th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009), 130-131.

4. E.g., see Patrick Bondy, “Virtues, Evidence, and Ad Hominem Arguments,Informal Logic 35 no. 4 (2015), 450-466. doi:10.22329/il.v35i4.4330

5. Douglas Walton, Witness Testimony Evidence: Argumentation, Artificial Intelligence, and Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 23-4.

6. Christopher Johnson, “Reconsidering the Ad Hominem,Philosophy 84 no. 2 (Apr. 2009), 265. doi:10.1017/S0031819109000217

7. Merilee Salmon, Introduction to Logic and Critical Thinking, 5th ed. (Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007), 121.

7.1. Dahlman, Christian, David Reidhav, and Lena Wahlberg, “Fallacies in Ad Hominem ArgumentsCogency 3 no. 2 (Summer 2011), 105-124.

7-2. See, for example, David M. Godden, “Deductivism as an Interpretive Strategy: A Reply to Groarke's Recent Defense of Reconstructive Deductivism,” Argumentation and Advocacy 41 (Winter 2005), 168-183.

8. Note that this definition of argumentum ad hominem departs from most current logic and critical thinking textbooks which still follow Roy Wood Sellar's influential and originating definition: “In this fallacy the argument is directed against the character of the man who is the opponent instead of adhering to its proper task of proving the point at issue.” Sellars insightfully points out, “[S]uch arguments … are more non-logical than illogical.” [Roy Wood Sellars, Essentials of Logic (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917), 153.]

9. Douglas Walton, “The Ad Hominem Argument as an Informal Fallacy,” Argumentation 1 no.3 (1987), 320. doi:10.1007/bf00136781

10. James Cargile, “Two Fallacies.” Logos & Episteme 1 no. 2 (2010), 267. doi:10.5840/logos-episteme2010124. Frans H. van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst rightly point out that in the standard treatment of fallacies, “[T]he notion of logical relevance is left undefined and its connection with logical validity remains unexplained.” [Frans H. van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst, “Argumentum Ad Hominem: A Pragma-Dialectical Case in Point,” Fallacies: Classical and Contemporary Reading eds. Hans V. Hansen and Robert C. Pinto (University Park: Penn State Press, 1995), 223]. Argumentum ad hominem examples are not deductive arguments, and logical validity needs no explanation. Even so, an adequate explanation of relevancy remains a genuine problem for the standard treatment of informal fallacies. Eemeren and Grootendorst also distinguish ad hominem arguments as being rhetorical rather than dialectical since their effectiveness depends upon the presence of an audience “in order to silence the other party.” [Frans H. van Eemeren and Rob Grootendorst, Speech Acts in Argumentative Discussions (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Foris Publications,1984), 191. doi:10.1515/9783110846089.177]

10.1. A number of approaches for a theory of relevance in informal logic is discussed in the section “Assessing Arguments” in New Essays in Informal Logic, eds. Ralph H. Johnson and J. Anthony Blair (Windsor, ON: Informal Logic, 1994), 51 ff. And Frans H. van Eemeren and Bob Gootendorst develop an understanding of argumentative relevance within a pragma-dialectical approach to the argumentum ad hominem in “Relevance Reviewed: The Case of Argumentum ad Hominem.” Argumentation 6 no. 2 (May 1992), 141-159. doi:10.1007/BF00154322. Here, relevance in oral or written discourse is described as a functional relation of elements among the interactional intention of disputants as is evident in interrelated speech acts, rather than as a relation among the statements in the discourse, itself, as is normally regarded in the traditional logo-centric view of informal logic.

Toulmin, Stephen, Richard Reike and Allan Janik. An Introduction to Reasoning (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co.: 1997), 117.

11. The characterization of the argumentum ad personam has a checkered history:

(1) In this example use from a parliamentary debate in 1884, the phrase is employed as a synonym for argumentum ad hominem: “… the speech of the honourable member for Selwyn, which was nothing but a constant application of the principle of the argumentum ad hominem, or the argumentum ad personam. It is nothing but a tissue of sneers and jeers and ridicule …” [J. Holmes, “Supply: Resumed Debate,” New Zealand Parliamentary Debates: Legislative Council and House of Representatives 48 (Wellington: New Zealand: G. Didsbury, 1884), 502.]

(2) Schopenhauer states in reference to the ad personam, “[I]n becoming personal you leave the subject altogether, and turn your attack to his person, by remarks of an offensive and spiteful character.” [Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Controversy and Other Posthumous Papers (London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1896), 46.]

(3) Schopenhauer, however, regards the ad personam and the ad hominem as different fallacies. Few logicians and rhetoricians today follow his separation of these two fallacies. He restricts the ad personam to the personal attack and the ad hominem to the ex concessis. [Schopenhauer, “Art of Controversy,” 46.] Bentham terms this version of the argumentum ad personam the argumentum ad odium. [Jeremy Bentham, Plan of Parlimentary Reform in The Works of Jeremy Bentham ed. John Bowring III (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838), 499.]

(4) The ad personam fallacy also has been occasionally defined as appealing to the personal interests of someone in order persuade someone to accept an argumentative claim. I.e., rather than directing an argument towards the issue at hand (argumentum ad rem), the argument is directed toward an issue which might influence a particular opponent (argumentum ad personam, [James Hervey Hyslop, Logic and Argument New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907), 176] or it is sometimes defined as simply “an appeal to personal interest.” [J. L. Mackie, “Fallacies,” The Encyclopedia of Philosophy ed. Paul Edwards (New York: Macmillan, 1967), 3: 178].

In general use, however, ad hominem and ad personam are used synonymously. See for example Douglas N. Watson, Informal Fallacies: Towards a Theory of Argument Criticisms (Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing, 1987), 8.

12. Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968), 800.

Historically, the phrase argumentum ad feminam has been used in several different ways: (1) With exceptions, most uses before 1940 refer to the methods of special pleading used to persuade a woman to accept some claim or point of view.

(2) According to the OED the earliest use for ad feminam as a means of discrediting a woman by reference to her character or circumstances is 1970. More recently the OED changed the first use to the mid 19th century. The OED entry for “ad feminam” is “after ad hominem adv. and adj., where this is (erroneously or facetiously) interpreted as a gender-specific term requiring a feminine analogue.” [“ad feminam, adv.,” (draft entry September 2006) Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)]. See also the online entry from English Oxford Living Dictionaries at

There are references to the ad feminam in the sense of “attempting to discredit a woman” before the mid 19th century, however. E.g., in Sir Walter Scott's novel, Redgauntlet: “The argumentum ad hominem, the last to which a polite man has recourse, may, however, be justified by circumstances, but seldom or never the argumentum ad fœminam“ [(Boston: Samuel H. Parker, 1824), 114-115] where this definition is provided in the glossary of a later edition:

argumentum ad hominem, ad feminam, lit. ‘the argument to a man, to a woman,’ refutation of a man's argument by an example drawn from his own conduct.” Sir Walter Scott, Redgauntlet (London: Oxford University Press, 1912), 501.
In accordance with the proliferation of fallacies in the last fifty years, the argumentum ad feminam in the sense of attempting to discredit a woman's claim by appeal to her character or circumstances may well become mainstream. If so, then recognition might follow, as it has recently with the ad hominem, that the ad feminam argument would not be necessarily fallacious by definition.

13. Thomas Sowell, “ Random Thought on the Passing Scene,” Index-Journal 97 no. 14 (5 March 2015), 6A. This example of the abusive ad hominem is sometimes called the name calling fallacy.

14. T. Besterman, “Voltaire to d'Alembert, 17 June 1762,” Voltaire's Correspondence XLIX (Geneva: Institute et Musée Voltaire, 1953-1977), 34.

15. Although tu quoque is normally classified as a version of the ad hominem, Douglas Walton points out that not all tu quoque arguments are subspecies of ad hominem arguments. [Douglas Walton, The Place of Emotion in Argument (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1992), 212.] However the niceties of sharp distinctions and subtypes existing between informal fallacies cannot be maintained. The content of arguments is not subject to precise distinction, and intrinsically some degree of vagueness and open texture of expression always persists.

16. Tu quoque arguments are intrinsically rhetorical rather than dialectical since their effectiveness depends on the presence of spectators. F.H. van Eemeren and R. Grootendorst, Speech Acts in Argumentative Discussions (Dordrecht; Cinnaminson, N.J., Foris Publications: 1984), 191.

17. Aristotle, A New Translation of Aristotle's Rhetoric, trans. John Gillies (London: T. Cadell, 1823), 339.

18. Aristotle, Rhetoric, 339.

19. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1935), 328.

19.1. For more on the distinction between the two wrongs fallacy and tu quoque see Douglas Walton's illuminating discussion: Douglas Walton, Ad Hominem Arguments (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1998), 17-20, 26, 61, 69-70, 90-91, 230-237.

19.2. “Comments on Events,” Music News, 32 no. 846 (18 May 1907), 486.

20. Schopenhauer writes, “Another trick is to use arguments ad hominem or ex concessis. When your opponent makes a proposition, you must try to see whether it is not in some way — it needs be, only apparently — inconsistent with some other proposition which he has made or admitted …” Schopenhauer, Art of Controversy, 27-8.

In this regard, Muras explains, “T]here is an incompatibility between the thesis the adversary is now defending and the thesis he was able to defend previously [in] his words or in his concrete acts.” Stéphane Muras, Manuel de Polémique (Paris: Editions du Relief, 2013), 314.

21. Isaac Watts describes this type of ad hominem in this manner: “[Y]et if from the principles and concessions of your opponent, you can support your argument … this has been always counted a fair treatment of an adversary, and is called argumentum ad hominem, or ratio ex concessis.” Isaac Watts, The Improvement of the Mind, 2nd. ed. (London: J. Brackstone, 1743), 165-6.

22. Exodus 31:14 Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945).

23. St. Luke 14:2-6 Scofield Reference Bible. The example appears in William and Robert Chambers, Chamber's Information for the People 5th ed. (Philadelphia: Jas. L. Gihon, 1858), 371. The passage exhibits the kind of argumentum ad hominem John Locke characterizes as a way or reasoning “to press a man with consequences drawn from his own principles, or concessions. Locke describes this kind of reasoning as a type of argument rather than a type of fallacy. John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Edinburgh: Mundell & Son, 1801), IV Chap. 17, 186.

24. Scott Aikin, “Tu Quoque Arguments and the Significance of Hypocrisy,” Informal Logic 28 no. 2 (2008), 160. doi:10.22329/il.v28i2.543

25. Schopenhauer, The Art of Controversy, 45. This mode of argumentation emerged from a different form of ex concessis where one uses the self-same prejudices of an individual in order to convince him something else is true even though one does not recognize the truth of that individual's assumptions.

26. Dana Milbank, “ House Republicans Want to Gut Key American Principle,” Index-Journal 97 no. 69 (1 May 2015), 9A.

27. Hiam Gordon and Rivca Gordon, Heidegger on Truth and Myth (New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2006), 42.

28. Eugene Robinson, “Surrender to the Inevitable,” Index-Journal 96 no. 132 (8 Oct. 2014), 8A.

29. John Stossel, “On Parasites: Or, About Lawyers and Politicians,” Index-Journal 95 no. 354 (7 Feb. 2015), 9A.

30. Just as in all fallacies of relevance, there are times when the recognition of an opponent's deeply rooted prejudice would be a relevant factor in discontinuing an open dialogue. E.g., there would be little advantage in attempting an open and honest political debate with someone espousing the following fixed opinion:

“[W]e must be closed to compromise. No one need try to convince me otherwise. The effort is futile; my conviction is absolute.” [Charles M. Blow, “The Death of Compassion,” The New York Times (23 Feb. 2017)].
A stance such as this one leads credence to the ad hominem charge of bias since the author is so deeply entrenched in a partisan issue that he refuses to consider any possible evidence for an opposing view.

Even so, to some extent, everyone has deeply rooted fixed opinions: “There is still another kind of prejudice similar to that just considered — namely, the judgments which are born of other minds and which, nevertheless, we come to appropriate as our own. the reasons in which such judgments are grounded we have never examined ourselves — possibly we could never understand even if they were presented to us with elaborate explanation; and yet the second-hand judgments cannot be eliminated wholly from our body of knowledge without an incalculable loss. ” [John Grier Hibben, “A Defence of Prejudice,” Scribner's Magazine, 43 no. 1 (Jan. 1908), 118.]

31. Douglas Walton argues that poisoning the well, even though having much in common with ad hominem arguments, is best analyzed in terms of argument schemes as as a distinctive fallacy type. He concludes that poisoning the well is a sophistical method associated with several different informal fallacies but is not itself an informal fallacy. Instead, he sees it as a dialectical fallacy in that its function is to obviate further argument. [Douglas Walton, “Poisoning the Well,” Argumentation 20 no. 3 (Sept. 2006), 273-307, doi:10.1007/s10503-006-9013-z.]

32. Ms. Toynbee initiates distrust of Baron Tebbit in advance of his arguments. Polly Toynbee, “The Lords Exposed the Government's Hypocrisy After Protecting EU Citizens,” The Guardian.

33. Herbert Grosshans, Web of Conspiracy (White Bear Lake, MN: Mélange Books, 2011), 8.

34. For more on reflexive poisoning-the-well arguments see Douglas Walton, Ad Hominem Arguments (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1998), 231.


34-1. Stuart Chase, “Language and Loyalty,” The Train Dispatcher 32 no. 7 July 1950), 514.

35. Cal Thomas, "Suppose Bachmann Is Right?" Index-Journal 94 no. 95 (2 Aug. 2012), 8A.

36. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2nd. ed. 1989) Cohen and Nagel first designated the genetic fallacy and classified it as a failure to make proper discrimination between values of the truth of a belief and its origin. [Morris R. Cohen and Ernest Nagel, An Introduction to Logic and Scientific Method 1934 rpt. (New Delhi: Allied Publishers, 1968), 88.] According to Steve Fuller, the occasional cause of Cohen and Nagel's stipulative definition is in response to John Dewey's notion that the historical career of an idea is relevant to its evaluation. Steve Fuller, Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 83 fn.

Nevertheless, versions of the genetic fallacy are described throughout the history of philosophy. John Locke, for example, states, “For the cause of any sensation, and the sensation itself, in all the simple ideas of one sense, are two ideas; and two ideas so different, and distant one from another, that no two can be more so.” [John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human[e] Understanding (London: Thomas Baffet, 1690), 199.] And in the early 1880s Henry Sidgwick writes,

“I cannot see how the mere ascertainment that a certain class of apparently self-evident judgments has been caused in certain known and determinate ways, can be in itself a valid ground for distrusting such cognitions. I cannot even admit that those who affirm the truth of such judgments are bound to show in their causes a tendency to make them true.” Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics (London: Macmillan and Co., 1884), 210.
Most current textbooks state the definition of the genetic fallacy similar to this one:
“When someone gives an account of what led someone (or a group) to a view and argues that since this (the account) is true, the view is false, this is called the Genetic Fallacy.” [J.D. Carney and R.K. Scheer. Fundamentals of Logic (New York: Macmillan, 1964), 32.]
Even so, usually the claim is not that the view under consideration is false — only that the claim has not been proved.

37. Norwood Russell Hanson, “II. The Genetic Fallacy Revisited,” American Philosophical Quarterly 4 no.2 (April 1967), 101.

38. James William Lett, Science, Reason, and Anthropology: The Principles of Rational Inquiry (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield: 1997), 65.

39. Willaim R. Klemm, “Starting Points for Agency Research,” in Constraints of Agency: Explorations of Theory in Everyday Life ed. Craig W. Gruber, et al. (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2015), 127. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-10130-9

40. Barbara Montero, On the Philosophy of Mind (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009), 70.

41. Peter Godfrey-Smith, “Not Sufficiently Reassuring.” London Review of Books 35 no.2 (24 Jan. 2013), 20.

42. Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy (1951 Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1968), 231. The distinction between discovery and justification extents to other disciplines as well. In law, for example, Jaap Hage writes, “The context of discovery deals with the psychological side of legal reasoning, while the context of justification concerns the justification of legal conclusion. Jaap Hage, “Legal Reasoning,” in Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, ed. J.M. Smits (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2006), 407. doi:10.4337/9781847200204.00043]

43. Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959 London: Hutchinson, 1974). 31.

44. Take, for instance, Charles Darwin's evolutionary explanation of the religious or moral belief in conscience:

“I do not wish to maintain that any strictly social animal, if its intellectual faculties were to become as active and as highly developed as in man, would acquire exactly the same moral sense as ours. … If, for instance, to take an extreme case, men were reared under precisely the same condition as hive-bees, there can hardly be a doubt that our unmarried females would, like the worker-bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters; and no one would think of interfering. Nevertheless, the bee, or any other social animal, would gain in our supposed case, as it appears to me, some feeling of right or wrong, or a conscience.” [Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, vol I (London: John Murray, 1871), 73.]

44-1. W. V. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism,” The Philosophical Review 60 no. 1 (January 1951), 20-43. The original and revised 1961 edition, with alterations, are fully provided on the Web by the Foundation for Information Technology, Logic and Mathematics, Warsaw, Poland:

44-2. Richard F. Kitchener, “Is Genetic Epistemology Possible,” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 38 no. 3 (September 1987), 283-299). (preview) Kitchener states the genesis vs. justification distinction as follows:

“Questions about the genesis of an idea (belief, concept theory) is one thing (an empirical question for psychology, sociology or history), whereas questions about the validity and justification of an idea is a different question (a normative question for logic and epistemology).” Kitchener, 285.“
He cites this distinction as one kind of the fact-norm distinction which “provides the underlying rationale of the notorious genetic fallacy.&rldquo; Further, he concludes, “What is clearly being ruled out, thererfore is the very possibility that a question about the ‘genesis’ of an idea could have some relevance towards evaluating its epistemic adequacy.” (Kitchener, 286).

45. Ledger Wood, “Genetic Fallacy” and “Genetic Method,” in Dagobert D. Runes, Dictionary of Philosophy (Paterson, NJ: Littlefield, Adams, 1962), 1116.

46. Kim Sterelny, “Escaping Illusion?” American Scientist 94 no. 5 (Sept.–Oct. 2006), 461.

47. Dino Franco Felluga, Perversity of Poetry (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 2005), 84-85.

48. Daniel Martin Varisco, Reading Orientalism (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2007), 36.

49. Eric S. Lander and Joseph J. Ellis, “News and Views: Founding Father,” Nature 396 no. 6706 (5 Nov. 1998), 14. doi:10.1038/23802

50. Sophia Grace Toplis, Twelfth Night in Young England (London: Young England Office, 1833), 121.

51. William James, Pragmatism (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1910), 6-11.

51.1. Thomas A. Mauet, Trial Techniques and Trials, 10th ed. (New York: Wolters Kluwer, 2017), 547-548.

52. See for example David Hitchcock, ”Why There Is No Argumentum Ad Hominem Fallacy,” ISSA Proceedings 2006 in The Rozenberg Quarterly Magazine doi:10.1007/978-3-319-53562-3_26 See also [John Woods, “Lightening Up On the Ad HominemInformal Logic 27 no. 1 (2007), 111. doi:10.22329/il.v27i1.467]

53. Douglas N. Walton, “Argumentation Schemes and Historical Origins of the Circumstantial Ad Hominem Argument,” Argumentation 18 (2004), 359-368. doi:10.1023/B:ARGU.0000046706.45919.83

54. Louise Cummings, “ Reasoning Under Uncertainty: The Role of Two Informal Fallacies in an Emerging Scientific Inquiry,” Informal Logic 22 no. 2 (2002), 121. hdoi:10.22329/il.v22i2.2578

55. Alan Brinton, “A Rhetorical View of the Ad Hominem,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63 no. 1 (March 1985), 55. doi:10.1080/00048408512341681 (paywall)

56. “Briefing,” Time 177 no. 19 (16 May 2011) 177, 9.

57. Kathleen, Parker, "Girl Fight," Index-Journal 93 No. 355 (19 Apr. 2012), 8A.

58. John Rosemond, “ ADHD: You Are What You Eat,” Index-Journal 97 no. 187 (5 Sept. 2015), 7A.

59. Eugene Robinson, “Expected to Save the World, Kushner Will Surely Fail,” Index-Journal 99 no. 20 (2 Apr. 2017), 7a.

60. Francis L. Wellman, The Art of Cross-Examination (New York: Macmillan, 1903), 29.

61. Bill O'Reilly, “The French Way,” Index-Journal 95 no. 191 (18 Nov. 2013), 6A.

62. Froma Harrop, “Will Americans Pay for American-Made?” Index-Journal 95 no. 204 (9 Dec., 2013), 9A.

63. John Stossel, “Earth Daze,” Index-Journal 95 no. 331 (14 Apr. 2014), 9A.

64. Barbara Ellen, “Faint-Hearted Feminists? What's Salma Hayek's Problem?The Guardian US edition (9 Nov. 2016).

65. George Will, “The Apostle Mike Huckabee,” Index-Journal (12 May 2015) 97 No. 79, 6A.

66. Huey P. Long, “Share Our Wealth: Radio Speech, 1935,” in Gerald D. Nash, Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Great Lives Observed 2nd. ed (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1967), 109.

67. Sandra Harding, “Conclusion: Epistemological Questions,” in Feminism and Methodology: Social Science Issues, ed. Sandra Harding (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987), 183-184.

68.Thomas Nickles, “Introductory Essay: History of the Idea of a ‘Logic ’ of Discovery,” in Scientific Discovery, Logic, and Rationality, ed. Thomas Nickles (Dordrecht: Holland: D. Reidel Publishing Company, 1978), 8. doi:10.10.1007/978-94-009-8986-3.

Herbert Feigel explains, “It is one thing to ask how we arrive at our scientific knowledge claims and what socio-cultural factors contribute to their acceptance or rejection; and it is another thing to ask what sort of evidence and what general, objective rules and standards govern the testing, the confirmation or disconfirmation and the acceptance or rejection of knowledge claims of science.” Herbert Feigel, “Philosophy of Science, ” in Philosophy, eds. R. M. Chisholm, et al. (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1965), 474.

Readings: Ad Hominem

Aberden, Andrew. “Commentary on Patrick Bondy, ‘Bias in Legitimate Ad Hominem Arguments.” (2016) OSSA Conference Archive, 7.

Ad hominem,” Wikipedia.

Aikin, Scott. “Tu Quoque Arguments and the Significance of Hypocrisy,” Informal Logic 28 no. 2 (June 2008), 155-169. doi:10.22329/il.v28i2.543

Barth, E. M. and J.L. Martens. “Argumentum Ad Hominem: From Chaos to Formal Dialectic.” Logique & Analyse 20 no. 77-78 (March-June 1977), 76-96.

Battaly, Heather. “Attacking Character: Ad Hominem Argument and Virtue Epistemology.” Informal Logic 30 no.4 (2010), 361-390, doi:10.22329/il.v30i4.2964.

Bondy, Patrick. “Bias in Legitimate Ad Hominem Arguments.” In Argumentation, Objectivity, and Bias. Eds. P. Bondy and L. Benacquista OSSA (May 2016), 1-8.

Bondy, Patrick. “Virtues, Evidence, and Ad Hominem Arguments.” Informal Logic 35 no. 4 (2015), 450-466. doi:10.22329/il.v35i4.4330.

Brinton, Alan. “A Rhetorical View of the Ad Hominem.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63 no. 1 (March 1985), 50-63. doi:10.1080/00048408512341681. (paywall)

Brinton, Alan. “The Ad Hominem.Fallacies: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Eds. Hans V. Hansen and Robert C. Pinto. (University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University, 1995), 213-222. (preview)

Boudry, Maarten and Fabio Paglieri and Massimo Pigliucci. “The Fake, the Flimsy, and the Fallacious: Demarcating Arguments in Real Life.” Maarten Boudry Google Scholar. Argumentation 29 no. 4 (Novmeber 2015), 431-456. doi:10.1007/s10503-015-9359-1. (paywall)

Budzynska, Katarzna and Chris Reed. “The Structure of Ad Hominem Dialogues.” Computational Models of Arguments (2012), 410-421.

Cargile, James. “Two Fallacies.” Logos & Episteme 1 no. 2 (2010), 257-268. doi:10.5840/logos-episteme2010124.

Chichi, Graciela Marta. “The Greek Roots of the Ad Hominem-Argument.” Argumentation 16 no. 3 (September 2002), 333-348. doi:10.1023/A:1019967112062. (paywall)

Crouch, Margaret A. “A ‘Limited ’Defense of the Genetic Fallacy. Metaphilosophy 24 no 3 (July 1993), 227-240. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9973.1993.tb00900.x. (paywall)

De Wijze, Stephen. “Complexity, Relevance and Character: Problems with Teaching the Ad Hominem Fallacy.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 35 (2003), 31-56. doi:10.1111/1469-5812.00004. (paywall)

Engel, S. Morris. “The Five Forms of the Ad Hominem Fallacy.” Inquiry 14 no. 1 (Autumn 1994): 19-36. doi:10.5840/inquiryctnews199414123. (paywall)

Goudge, T. A. “The Genetic Fallacy.” Synthese 13 no. 1 (1961), 41-48. doi:10.1007/BF00485935." (paywall)

Hansen, Norwood Russell. “The Irrelevance of History of Science to Philosophy of Science.” The Journal of Philosophy 59 no. 21 (Oct. 1962), 574-586, doi:10.2307/2023279. (preview)

Hitchcock, David. “Is There an Argumentum ad Hominem Fallacy?” In On Reasoning and Argument. Ed. David Hitchcock (Springer International, 2017), 409-419. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-53562-3_26. (preview)

Hitchcock, David. “The Pragma-Dialectical Analysis of the Ad Hominem Fallacy.” In Considering Pragma-Dialectics.. Eds. Peter Houtlosser and Agnès van Rees. (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaus Associates, 2006), 109-119. (preview)

Hitchcock, David. “Why There is No Argumentum Ad Hominem Fallacy.” In Proceedings of the Sixth Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation. Eds. F.H. van Eemeren and B. Garssen. 1 (Amsterdam: Sic Sat, 2007), 615-620.

Hoaglund, John. “Argumentum ad Hominem: Aut Bonum aut Malum?Informal Logic 4 no. 3 (July 1981), 7-9.

Jason, Gary James. “Is There a Case for Ad Hominem Arguments?Australasian Journal of Philosophy 62 no. 2 (1984), 182-185. doi:10.1080/00048408412341381. (paywall)

Johnson, Christopher M. “Reconsidering the Ad Hominem.” Philosophy 84 no. 2 (April 2009), 251-266. doi:10.1017/S0031819109000217. (paywall)

Johnstone, H.W., Jr., “Philosophy and Argumentum ad Hominem.” Journal of Philosophy 49 no. 15 (17 July 1952), 489-498. doi:10.2307/2021667. (paywall)

Klement, Kevin C. “When Is Genetic Reasoning Not Fallacious.” Argumentation 16 no. 4 (December 2002), 383-400. doi:10.1023/A:1021132731699.

Krabbe, Erik C.W. and Doublas Walton. “It's All Very Well for You to Talk! Situationally Disqualifying Ad Hominem Attacks.” Informal Logic 15 no. 2 (1993): 79-91.

Lavine, T. Z. “Reflections on the Genetic Fallacy.” Social Research. 29 no. 3 (Autumn 1962), 321-336. (paywall)

Law, Stephen. “Thinking Tools: The Genetic Fallacy.” Think 5 no. 13 (June 2006), 23-24. doi:10.1017/S1477175600001500. (paywall)

Mackenzie, P.T. “Ad Hominem and Ad VerecundiamInformal Logic 3 no. 3 (1980), 9-11.

McMurtry, John. “The Argumentum Ad AdversariumInformal Logic 8 no. 1 (Winter, 1986), 27-36.

Mizrahi, Moti. “Take My Advice — I Am Not Following It: Ad Hominem Arguments as Legitimate Rebuttals to Appeals to Authority.” Informal Logic 30 no. 4 (2010): 435-456. doi:10.22329/il.v30i4.2990.

Meuffels, B. and F.H. van Eemeren, “Ordinary Arguers' Judgments on Ad Hominem Fallacies Advances in Pragma-dialectics. Ed. F.H. van Eemeren (Amsterdam: Sic Sat/Vale Press, 2002), 45-64. (no preview)

Pashman, Jon. “Is the Genetic Fallacy a Fallacy?The Southern Journal of Philosophy 8 no. 1 (Spring 1970), 57-62. doi:10.1111/j.2041-6962.1970.tb02093.x.

Plug, H.J. “Parrying Ad-HominemArguments in Parliamentary Debates.” Proceedings of the 7th Conference of the International Society for the Study of Argumentation. Eds. F.H. van Eemeren, et al. (Amsterdam: Rozenberg/Sic Sat.), 1538-1546.

Raley, Yvone. “Character Attacks: How to Properly Apply the Ad Hominem.” Scientific American Mind.

van Eemeren, Frans H. and Rob Grootendorst. “Argumentum Ad Hominem: A Pragma-Dialectical Case in Point.” In Fallacies: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Eds. Hans V. Hansen and Robert C. Pinto (University Park PA: Pennsylvania State University Press: 1995), 223-228.

van Eemeren, Frans H. and Rob Grootendorst. “Relevance Reviewed: The Case of Argumentum ad Hominem.” Argumentation 6 no. 2 (May 1992), 141-159. doi:10.1007/BF00154322.

Walton, Douglas.“The Ad Hominem Argument as an Informal Fallacy.” Argumentation 1 no.3 (1987), 320. doi:10.1007/bf00136781

Walton, Douglas N. Ad Hominem Arguments, (Tuscalooosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1998). (preview)

Walton, Douglas N. “Argumentation Schemes and Historical Origins of the Circumstantial Ad Hominem Argument.” Argumentation 18 no. 3 (September 2004), 359-368. doi:10.1023/B:ARGU.0000046706.45919.83.

Walton, Douglas N. “The Ad Hominem Argument as an Informal Fallacy,” Argumentation 1 (1987), 317-331. doi:10.1007/BF00136781.

Walton, Douglas. “Formalization of the Ad Hominem Argumentation Scheme,” Journal of Applied Logic 8 no. 1 (March 2010), 1-21. doi:10.1016/j.jal.2008.07.002.

Walton, Douglas N. “On a Razor's Edge: Evaluating Arguments from Expert Opinion,” Argument & Computation 5 no. 2/3 (2014), 139-159. doi:10.1080/19462166.2013.858183.

Walton, Doulas N. “Poisoning the Well,” Argumentation 20 no. 3 (September 2006), 273-307. doi:10.1007/s10503-006-9013-z.

Walton, Douglas N. “Searching for the Roots of the Circumstantial Ad HominemArgumentation 15 no. 2 (May 2001), 207-221. doi:10.1023/A:1011120100277.

Walton, Douglas N. “Witness Testimony as Argumentation.” Witness Testimony Evidence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 12-61. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511619533.002.

Ward, A.C. “The Value of Genetic Fallacies.” Informal Logic 30 no. 1 (2010), 1-30. doi:10.22329/il.v30i1.1237.

Woods, John. “Lightening Up on the Ad Hominem.” Informal Logic 27 no. 1 (2007), 109-134. doi:10.22329/il.v27i1.467.

Yap, Audrey. “Ad Hominem Fallacies, Bias, and Testimony.” Argumentation 27 (2013), 97-109. doi:10.1007/s10503-011-9260-5.



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