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I want to get a few opinions on this logical fallacy.

 

I don't think it is always a fallacy, because, yes, you should attack an argument or opinion, but in the end, a person came up with, or just uses, that argument or opinion and a personal attack doesn't seem so bad anymore, because, if an argument is attacked, isn't the person that used it attacked as well, even if only because he used that argument, and even if in a less direct manner?

 

And sometimes a person's conduct, or motives matter in a discussion and it changes their argument(s) or view on the situation - for example, hypocrisy - pretending to have beliefs, opinions, virtues, feelings, qualities, or standards that one does not actually have.

 

So, are personal attacks understandable at any point in a conversation? What do the staff members of this forum think, since "Personal attacks are not allowed under any circumstance." (Guidelines)

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Replies to This Discussion

When you attack an argument, idea or opinion, you leave the bearer an opportunity to pull back.

When you attack the person, that person will attack back.

It's much easier to admit that I was wrong than to admit that I'm an idiot.

Exactly. 

you leave the bearer an opportunity to pull back.

 

Most of us deal with religious people all the time and most of them do not pull back, no matter how many counterarguments you so politely present. What can you do then but attack the person, because, well, the argument sucks, but that person still uses it even after you destroyed it in various ways so it must be something wrong with the person. And you could avoid the person, but in most situations that is not really an option, because people like that are a big part of our lives. You can't avoid everyone.

 

What you say Michel makes sense, but not with this kind of people. After all, if you could reason with them, there would be nothing to complain about and we would not have this discussion or this forum.

So do you think that if you personally attack them that they will listen to you? If they won't listen to reason, I don't think anything else will help at that point. It is such a tricky area in my opinion. I'll admit that I'm quick to just end the conversation and move on or just leave in general.

"You can't avoid everyone."

And that's what makes the situation as sticky as warm honey bun!

Well, that was not what I had in mind. I was only asking if, after a certain point, attacking a person is understandable and acceptable, here or on another forum, or even in a face to face conversation. If they won't listen to reason, they won't listen to anything. That's pretty much what I think as well. But you should be able to try to attack the person as well, because it might help. It can happen. I am not talking about insults... but what is and isn't an insult after all? Saying that someone's idea, opinion or argument is stupid, isn't an insult? A lot of people take it as one. So it's only a matter of perspective. If I don't see attacking a person, in a civil way, as an insult, can I do it? Why not? If someone receives the attack on his/her arguments as a personal attack, should the person that made that attack be punished? Why not?

 

Basically, I am asking what is and isn't a personal attack if one can see everything (or nothing) as that.

"Basically, I am asking what is and isn't a personal attack if one can see everything (or nothing) as that."

I see. Like interventions?

Julien you love asking the tough questions. I like that. When you put it that way I'm back to thinking about it :)
But you should be able to try to attack the person as well, because it might help.

It is more likely to be of help to the attackant than to the target and to the forum. While being potentially very disruptive.
Well, I think it might help, but you should try it after all else has failed, even if you know that is a big chance it won't change anything, you should just try it. But do it in a civilized manner, and you won't harm the overall discussion, or the forum. You can say something like "Well, I have tried everything that I can and I have given you very good arguments against your ideas and opinions but you still hold on to them, so it must be something wrong with you." Can you Michel, as a moderator, see that as a personal attack and punish someone that says it, even though you do agree that the attacked person really has no (good) reasons for arguing and after the attacker has given many good arguments?

There's no set line.

It depends on the language and the context.

But I hope you realize that saying something like  "Well, I have tried everything that I can and I have given you very good arguments against your ideas and opinions but you still hold on to them, so it must be something wrong with you" as polite as it is, effectively terminates the discussion part of the debate.

Proceeding further and responding to your interlocutor's more than probable counter-attack would not be very productive and you'd probably choose at that point to avoid the debater in question.

Thus not personally incurring some irate mod's wrath =)

 

Well, some more talking wasn't part of what I had in mind after saying "Well, I have tried everything that I can and I have given you very good arguments against your ideas and opinions but you still hold on to them, so it must be something wrong with you". If there were anything left to be said, it would have been said before that point, and that would be my way of telling that person what I really think about him/her and if he/she is interested in another discussion with me, a little character revision is necessary, and thus closing the discussion from my part. I would avoid any more replies, even if attacked by that person. I don't think that I would break any rules or even be rude by any normal standards. Obviously, if that person did not understand good arguments, it would seem like an insult, but I don't care.
what is and isn't a personal attack

What is and what isn't a debate?

Well, a debate is every conversation you engage in by discussing opposing points.

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