Proverbs 4:24 “Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.”
Proverbs 10:11 “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.”
Proverbs 11:9 “With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor.”
Proverbs 26:28 “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
We have seen how people use red herrings to avoid a question, but another method that is used is known as an “Ad Hominem” when they want to avoid answering the question. In other words, and Ad Hominem attack is attacking opponent’s character, or his motives for believing something, instead of disproving his argument.
In the latest presidential campaign and the public debates that took place often we see “Ad Hominems” coming out in attacking one another’s persons rather than getting down to the real questions at hand.
Not only do we see Ad Hominem coming out in public debates, especially political debates, but also in the ads that come out on TV, etc. For example, in the last political debate between Hillary Clinton and Trump how often we saw the character of the two being attacked.
The idea in back of this type of fallacy in attacking his opponent’s character or motives that the public will often think badly of his opponents’ arguments as well. This is not the right way to argue. Someone might have character flaws, we all do, but his arguments might be valid.
An Ad Hominem can also occur when someone accuses his opponent of having bad motives. However, it is not an Ad Hominem when someone questions whether or not the person is telling the truth.
Ad Hominem can be translated as either “to the man” or “against the man.” Ad Hominem is probably one of the dirtiest tricks that a debater can employ, because it is irrelevant to the source of what is being debated and an uninformed public will often not make a distinction between the character of the man and his argument.
Another reason why an “Ad Hominem” is a dirty debater’s trick, although it is easy to spot, is because it evokes emotive language. The emotions come into play and in the process the real source of the argument is lost. The public loses because we do not get to the real answers to the questions being asked.
Using as an example the latest presidential elections that we have had here in America many questions that needed to be answered has been lost because of the “Ad Hominem fallacy.” In choosing our leaders we need to know what they really think and we get that by answering the real questions.
Another aspect of the “Ad Hominem fallacy” is what they call “circumstantial.” What this basically says is that a person’s argument ought not to be given weight simply because of the circumstances of that person. In other words an example of this would be not to give credibility to a person’s argument on abortion because he is a Roman Catholic. How often we have seen this type of fallacy being promoted in the abortion debate.
“Circumstantial Ad Hominem” is not necessarily abusive, but it brings out the circumstances or the credibility of the person in the debate. In other words, there is no credibility to his argument because of his/her circumstances.