Personal criticisms and logical fallacies (was: Modifying Class Object)

Ben Finney ben+python at
Wed Feb 10 01:23:34 CET 2010

Steven D'Aprano <steve at> writes:

> An ad hominem attack is not when somebody makes a criticism of you
> personally. It is when somebody says something along the lines of
> "Don't pay any attention to Alf, he doesn't know what he's talking
> about, he's a <whatever>".

In other words, a criticism of the person is only a fallacy if it is
both irrelevant to the argument *and* used to dismiss the argument.

Many criticisms are introduced not because they directly connect to the
argument, but simply because they are relevant to the demonstrated
behaviour at the time.

> You might not like the personal criticism, but that doesn't make it 
> either an attack or a fallacy.

Exactly. A personal criticism can be expressed *as a criticism*, and be
valid or not without needing to be relevant to your chosen argument.
Look to the criticism on its own merits, and decide what to do about it.

 \         “If there were not God, there would be no atheists.” —G. K. |
  `\                                                        Chesterton |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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