Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Demonizing II: Demonic Ad Hominem

Philosophy News image
An ad Hominem is a general category of fallacies in which a claim or argument is rejected based on some irrelevant fact about the person making the claim or argument. The demonic version of this fallacy involves two steps, the first of which distinguishes the demonic from the normal ad hominem. First, the target of the ad hominem is demonized. As noted in the previous essay on the subject, demonizing is portraying the target as evil, corrupt, dangerous or threatening.  This can be done in the usual three ways: selective demonizing, hyperbolic demonizing or fictional demonizing. Selective demonizing is when some true negative fact about the target is focused on to the exclusion of other facts about the target.  Hyperbolic demonizing involves greatly exaggerating a negative fact about the target. Fictional demonizing is simply lying about the target. Second, this attack is taken to be evidence against the claim or argument in question. The demonic ad hominem has the following form: Premise 1. Person A makes claim X. Premise 2. Person B demonizes person A. Conclusion: Therefore, A’s claim is false (or A’s argument fails). The reason why the demonic ad hominem is a fallacy is that demonizing a person has no bearing on the truth of a claim or the quality of an argument. In addition to the logical error, a demonic ad hominem also suffers from the fact that demonizing, by definition, involves deception. At the very least, demonizing involves taking facts out of context and often involves outright falsehoods. A demonic ad hominem can have considerable psychological force since demonizing typically goes beyond the usual attacks in a non-demonic ad hominem and thus can trigger strong emotions. A common tactic is to demonize the target using stereotypes the audience already accepts and by appealing to their biases, fears and prejudices. Such an audience will be inclined to accept the demonization as true and their emotional response can lead. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: A Philosopher's Blog

blog comments powered by Disqus