Ad Hominem - Literary Devices

Ad Hominem

Definition of Ad Hominem

Ad hominem is a well-used word. It is used in debates and also as a literary device. It means against the man, and has been used in arguments to attack the opponent directly instead of his arguments.

This is frowned upon in debates because it would be considered as fallacious and detrimental to the debate. This is because it would distract the audience from the argument itself.

It is also considered as bad sportsmanship if you directly attack the character of your opponent in a debate. When this is used in a writing context it is important to understand that a writer’s traits and circumstances have a pivotal role to play.

It is important to state that ad hominem if used in a writing context is done to sway the reader to your line of thinking. Although it might be effective when it comes to getting the attention of the audience. The fact that you would insult the opposing side. And even throw false accusations on them shows the weakness of your own stand in the argument. Sadly though some writers still tend to use ad hominem as a writing tool. And are still able to sway the opinions of their readers. Its greatest weakness though is the fact that it has very little logical facts to back it up.

Examples of Ad Hominem

Example #1

Schreiber suggests that lowering taxes will be a good idea — this is coming from a man who eats a pint of Ben and Jerry’s each night!

This statement does not make any sense, because what does it matter if he likes to eat ice cream. It has nothing to do with the taxes. In short some people use ad hominem as a way to desperately attack the character of their opponent because their own arguments lack facts and are no longer effective to make a counter argument.

Example #2

The Gummy Balls company is a soul sucking establishment that profits from the pain and suffering of their employees.

This statement is a good example of an ad hominem because it attacks the integrity of the company and yet does not have any factual evidence to back up it’s statements.

Example #3

Rivera is a heartless shell of a man. He says he is a practicing catholic, but he has had more extramarital affairs than anyone in this parish. Which is why you should not vote for his son in the coming elections.

This statement is yet another good example of ad hominem because the arguments do not have any factual basis to the accusations. All in all using ad hominem in an argument is not a good idea, because although they may be able to sway the audience, it would still lack much needed facts to fully convince readers.

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