For the third time today, I’ve been asked what Ad Hominem means (likely because Jared Loughner referred to it on one of his YouTube videos before he went on his shooting spree in Arizona) so I thought it would be helpful to explain it in detail here.
The most simple (and common) definition of an Ad Hominem argument is to discredit an argument simply because of the person who is making the argument. For instance, you may know that an individual is a habitual liar. When that individual makes a statement, you could refute it by arguing that the individual lacks credibility or impartiality.
This would be an Ad Hominem argument, because you do not address the argument or statement itself, but the person making the statement.
Would you like to see an example of an Ad Hominem today? Watch any political news segment for 5 minutes and see how many you can count!
What other logical fallacies would you like me to explain?
Editor’s Note: Breanne Harris is the Solutions Architect for Pearson TalentLens. She works with customers to design selection and development plans that incorporate critical thinking assessments and training. She has a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and has experience in recruiting, training, and HR consulting. She is the chief blogger for Critical Thinkers and occasionally posts at ThinkWatson. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter for more of her thoughts.