— Argumentum Ad Hominem —

Fallacy definition (short name: ad_hominem)


Using the interlocutor’s argument to prove it wrong

It is important to note that the label ad hominem is ambiguous, and that not every kind of ad hominem argument is fallacious.
In one sense, an ad hominem argument is an argument in which you offer premises that you the arguer don’t accept, but which you know the listener does accept, in order to show that his position is incoherent (as in, for example, the Euthyphro dilemma). There is nothing wrong with this type of argument ad hominem.

Attacking the arguer

The other type of ad hominem argument is a form of genetic fallacy. Arguments of this kind focus not on the evidence for a view but on the character of the person advancing it; they seek to discredit positions by discrediting those who hold them. It is always important to attack arguments, rather than arguers, and this is where arguments that commit the ad hominem fallacy fall down.


(1) William Dembski argues that modern biology supports the idea that there is an intelligent designer who created life.
(2) Dembski would say that because he’s religious.
(3) Modern biology doesn’t support intelligent design.

This argument rejects the view that intelligent design is supported by modern science based on a remark about the person advancing the view, not by engaging with modern biology. It ignores the argument, focusing only on the arguer; it is therefore a fallacious argument ad hominem.


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