A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Today's Logical Fallacy in Politics: Ad Hominem (to the person)

X, X Everywhere  - Ad Hominem Ad Hominem everywhere!
yourlogicalfallacyis.com defines the ad hominem (Latin: "to the person") fallacy as an attack on the "opponent's character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument."

Two examples:

1) Hillary Clinton supports a path to citizenship for persons here illegally. What can you expect from an individual that broke federal law using a private email server.

The debate over whether or not Secretary Clinton broke the law as Secretary of State is not unimportant, but it has nothing to do with the merits or the lack thereof concerning her immigration policy.

2) Donald Trump wants to build a wall across America's southern border and make Mexico pay for it. This is not a surprise from someone who cheated repeatedly on his previous wives.

Again, Trump's fidelity or the lack thereof is not insignificant, but what does it have to do with his views on what to do about illegal immigration? His character issues in reference to his previous marriages should not deflect from the pros and cons of the argument.

The next logical fallacy: the genetic fallacy


bthomas said...

ah... no. The policies of Trump cannot be separated from his being unfaithful to his wife. When it comes to immigration policy, one must consider that his unfaithfulness to his wife could give one some understanding of whether or not he could be trusted to control the borders of this nation.

The policies of Clinton cannot be separated from her having perjured herself in sworn testimony regarding her misuse of govt. email. When it comes to whether or not she can be trusted to lead with integrity the affairs of this nation, her lack of trustworthiness and integrity give voters cause for pause as they consider whether or not she can be trusted at any level of responsibility in government.

Allan R. Bevere said...


The issue in both cases is the substance of the argument directly. Character issues are not unimportant, but the substance of whether or not their positions are good or not is the first issue. To attack the person as the response to their positions alone diverts from the issue at hand and is a logical fallacy.