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The ad Hominem argument as an informal fallacy


This article outlines criteria for the evaluation of the argumentum ad hominem (argument against the person, or personal attack in argument) that is traditionally a part of the curriculum in informal logic. The argument is shown to be a kind of criticism which works by shifting the burden of proof in dialogue through citing a pragmatic inconsistency in an arguer's position. Several specific cases of ad hominem argumentation which pose interesting problems in analyzing this type of criticism are studied.

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Walton, D.N. The ad Hominem argument as an informal fallacy. Argumentation 1, 317–331 (1987).

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Key words

  • argumentation
  • personal attack
  • fallacies
  • criticisms
  • informal logic
  • dialogue
  • bias
  • rhetoric
  • inconsistency
  • refutation