Ad Hominem

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Ad hominem arguments, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: "argument to the person", "argument against the man") consist of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. It is most commonly used to refer specifically to the ad hominem abusive, or argumentum ad personam, which consists of criticizing or personally attacking an argument's proponent in an attempt to discredit that argument.

Other common subtypes of the ad hominem include the ad hominem circumstantial, or ad hominem circumstantiae, an attack which is directed at the circumstances or situation of the arguer; and the ad hominem tu quoque, which objects to an argument by characterizing the arguer as being guilty of the same thing that he is arguing against.

Argument ad hominem is the converse of appeal to authority in which the arguer bases the truth value of an assertion on the authority, knowledge or position of the person asserting it. Hence, while an ad hominem argument may make an assertion less compelling, by showing that the person making the assertion does not have the authority, knowledge or position they claim, or has made mistaken assertions on similar topics in the past, it cannot provide an infallible counterargument.


  • Person A makes claim X
  • There is something objectionable about Person A
  • Therefore claim X is false


Muslims often seek to discredit the critics of Islam by questioning their motives, scholarly background or even their religious background.

Example A:

  • Craig Winn argues that Muhammad wasn't a prophet of God
  • Craig Winn is a self-professed scholar of Islam
  • Therefore, Craig's assertion must be wrong

In reality, Craig's scholarly background is irrelevant and the fact that he studied the Islamic sources on his own without the assistance of a Muslim scholar does not affect the validity of his claims.

Example B:

  • Ali Sina argues that the Qur'an wasn't inspired by God
  • Ali Sina says some mean things and is suspected as an undercover Jew
  • Therefore, Ali Sina's claim must be wrong

The truth is that neither the character of Ali Sina nor his religious background is relevant to the validity of his argument, and as such does not invalidate his claim.

The accusation of "Islamophobia" can also be an Ad hominem argument.

See Also

  • Tu Quoque - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Tu Quoque
  • Logical Fallacies - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Logical Fallacies

External Links