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Re: OT fallacies (was: The wisdom of the object mentors)

From: Keith H Duggar <duggar_at_alum.mit.edu>
Date: 2 Jun 2006 21:07:40 -0700
Message-ID: <1149307660.580238.67340@i39g2000cwa.googlegroups.com>


mAsterdam wrote:
> Marshall wrote:
> > Keith H Duggar wrote:
> > > What BB wrote may be called an /insult/ but it is not
> > > ad hominem since it is not even an argument.
>
> > > What BB wrote ... is not even an argument.
>
> True. No logic, no fallacy, just ad hominem.
>
> > > Ad hominem refers to a fallacious form of
> > > /argumentation/. BB's argumentation followed that
> > > insult. The insult was not his argument. Do you
> > > understand? You are not alone in this increasingly
> > > common misconception that insult = ad hominem.
> >
> > Exactly.
> >
> > Some examples:
> >
> > "What you wrote is wrong, therefore you suck." Not
> > ad-hominem.
> >
> > "You suck, therefore what you wrote is wrong."
> > Ad-hominem.
> >
> > "You suck." Not ad-hominem.
>
> All three utterances are not by themselves examples of the
> "ad-hominem" logical fallacy. All of them are ad hominem
> (=personal) attacks, though.

Unfortunately, mAsterdam, this loose usage of "ad hominem = any personal attack" is a relatively recent concoction of the ignorant masses. (See for example the discussion at http://www.bartleby.com/61/71/A0087100.html). Your equation "ad hominem = personal" above also shows that, in this case, you share this mass ignorance of what the Latin actually means.

We can easily surmise what happened. At some point in recent past various members of the ignorant masses heard someone use the phrase "ad hominem" to describe a fallacious appeal to the emotions of those observing a debate (the correct and original meaning). Some among the masses, never having heard this "cool" new phrase "ad hominem" before and wanting to themselves be "cool", decided to emulate this new behavior.

Having little use for logic and, further still, not realizing that emotions impact their ability to reason, yet still needing to "understand" the new phrase to "correctly" employ it, they assumed that "ad hominem" must, therefore, refer simply to insults and personal attacks. Desiring above all else to be "cool" and sound impressive, these simpletons seized, as soon as they could, any chance to use their new "educated" phrase. Thus, they elevated themselves from the ranks of the merely ignorant to full-fledged VI (vociferous ignoramuses). The rest is history.

Therefore, follow not this modern VI fashion and quibble not with those educated in the actual meaning of the phrase.

> True, but that does not make it right.

And the vociferously ignorant SEVERELY hamper the progress of human kind. How to deal with them efficiently is a difficult dilemma. And, unfortunately, cyberspace has provided them a fertile breeding ground. Do you have an suggestions?

> The insults /do/ constitute personal attacks. They are
> highly distracting, serve the same purpose as the logical
> fallacy. http://www.fallacyfiles.org/redherrf.html

How do you know the purpose of those insults? I for one believe they served a /very/ different purpose having little to do with the argumentation here.

Received on Fri Jun 02 2006 - 23:07:40 CDT

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