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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

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

"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?"

When it gets down to the point where personal attacks are being used everything that is said during negates itself in my opinion. I have seen people make excellent points only to taint them with personal attacks.

"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?"

I tell you what I like about everyone's discussions here, they are deep. I like this post because I believe a lot of people don't participate in discussions because of this issue. I want to say it depends on how that person looks at it. I have social anxiety so I have to make sure that when someone disagrees with my arguments and opinions that I don't take it as an assault on my person. If I say that I'm going to rob and bank and then someone replies that such an idea is foolish, I believe that I should take it like it is said, that IDEA was foolish. My mind wants to think of it as I am foolish because I made the comment and it was rejected or more like commented on as not acceptable.

I'm like what Michel said. I have said things that have not been right.

I usually don't proofread my stuff and I'm not even going to talk about grammar. When someone attacks or disagrees with my idea and I go back and see that they have a point I can admit my mistake and move on glad that the person helped me understand. When someone adds a personal attack ( a direct one?)it doesn't matter what they have said. I will still correct my statements but I wouldn't respect that person after that point. Of course I should do my best not to put myself in that position.

Now the fun part is doing the same during live conversations when the other person is in front of you and time may not be as friendly as it is on here. Sometimes I wait days to reply just to make sure that I'm not misunderstanding what was said.
"Ive apologized more than once, and will always do so, but I've also pullled out all of my ammo and let it rip...also something I'll continue to do...depends on the ppl I'm dealing with along with the topic and situation."

Agreed and I have had to do the same so I get it now. Actually I did just yesterday LOL! Always good stuff here!
Sometimes a personal attack is warrented and the only way to get one's message or point across.

It sure gets points across, one of which is where your breakpoint sits.
That is an EXCELLENT point, oh wise Michel. "Losing it" always says more about the person who loses its temper than about the other person.

Yes, that is how i see it too.

"The first one to throw stones,

is the first one to run out of ideas."

 (and isn't calling another person names simply verbal stone throwing?)

forgot who said that quote.

 

Ahtough, i can't ride too high of a horse on this matter, because I am guilty once, of having called a person online racist, but he ASKED me if he was racist.  Still, i went too far, and did apologize, and did feel badly about 'losing it'.  We all have our sacred cows, i guess.  I still felt very much i was correct in my disagreement with his every remark, but, i was ashamed i'd sunk to grade school level of 'debate' by just calling names.

 

For some of us, our own personal sacred cow, could be this topic, or that topic.

  When the topic being discussed is not one of your own personal sacred cows, it might be hard to understand why PersonB is losing it, yet, on another topic, you might find yourself close to losing it, feeling heated inside, too! 

 

but, other than my one messup, i strongly agree with Adriana and Michel, the one calling the other person names, is saying far more about themselves than the other person.

Here's what Wiki has to say: 

An ad hominem (Latin: "to the man"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the truth of a claim to a negative characteristic or belief of the person advocating it. The ad hominemis normally described as a logical fallacy, but it is not always fallacious; in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue.

So yes - in a formal debate I suppose it would be allowed, but how often does one engage in a formal debate online? 

The logical fallacy part is if you use the ad hominem, as Wiki says, to discredit the veracity of an idea or fact by discrediting the character of the person proposing the idea. For example, a specific creationist may indeed be a hopeless nincompoop, but this is not the reason why creationism is NOT true; creationism is not true because there is no evidence for it and there are tons for common descent and evolution. In other words, one must debate the idea and not the person.

 

Of course if a person espouses and idea and then does the opposite, like for example, right-wing married, "family men" politicians with a holier-than-thou agenda who then are found with prostitutes, then their character can be attacked because their attitude is hypocritical. So in this case character would be relevant to the issue.

I guess you can win an argument or a debate by attacking the creationist, but I don't see any satisfaction in winning like that; not that I see debates as another way to show your muscles. But if you really want to win, do it, like you've said, by showing the creationist, and everyone else, the lack of evidence.

 

Nincompoop... that word is so funny. :)

One of my favorite words in the English language :-)

When you attack an argument, you are indirectly attacking the person that supports the thought.

 

Is that not good enough? Or would we rather sit around calling each other bitches all day?

Or would we rather sit around calling each other bitches all day?

 

Come to think of it, Ning's limited nesting isn't so bad after all.

If we are indirectly attacking the person that supports the thought, aren't we in violation of the "personal attacks rule"? Or only the direct attacks (calling each other bitches) count as that?

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