Translated to English, ad hominem means against the person. In other words, when someone makes an ad hominem, they are attacking the person they are arguing against, instead of what they are saying.
The term comes from the Latin word homo, which means human. Hominem is a gender neutral version of the word homo. In ancient Rome it referred to all free men, or in other words, all free human beings.
Ad hominem can be a way to use reputation, rumors and hearsay to change the minds of other people listening. When a social network has already excluded or exiled one person, or applied a negative label to them, this can work more often.
What an ad hominem argument looks like[change | change source]
Normal (valid) proof[change | change source]
Ad hominem example[change | change source]
- Person A thinks abortion should be illegal.
- Person A is uneducated and poor.
- Therefore, abortion should not be illegal.
In this example it can be seen that the (completely unrelated) fact that person A is uneducated and poor is used to prove that abortion should not be illegal.
Related pages[change | change source]
- Fallacy for a list of other types of (false) rhetorical arguments.