Philosophy Wire by Spiros Kakos [2017-04-22]:
Theory says that we should not use “Ad hominem” arguments for any discussion. It is not “proper”. It is not “right”. But why is that? Why shouldn’t you refer to the persons associated with an argument in order to say something about the argument?
Every argument has the goal to have an impact on the real world, an impact on our lives. After all, we speak our mind only in order to persuade others that we are “right”, that the others are “wrong”. That if you follow our way of thinking then something “good” will happen, as opposed to following the opposite way of thinking. So speaking about the people who are related to that specific way of thinking is totally related to the argument (this is almost a… tautology) and has a very specific value: surely it does not prove the argument right or wrong, but it surely shows how the proponents of that argument use it in their lives (thus, the power of the argument in changing our lives). Wouldn’t you want to listen to a Christian speaking about how he practices his faith in everyday life? Wouldn’t you want to listen to an atheist speaking about how he lives by his atheistic beliefs (everything is random, without purpose, we are just machines/ moving lifeless meat etc => we can do anything, there is no point in anything, there is no good/ evil, killing someone and breaking a rock are similar events etc) every day?
Wouldn’t you like to know about the unethicality of the life of Russell, who had the nerve to speak about ethics? Wouldn’t you like to know about the ethics of the life of Jesus, who has been under attack like he is the most unethical person in the human history?
Perhaps after all the ad hominem argument is the best way to argue in favor or against a specific theory. After all, what matters is the impact in real life. Give me an interesting theory and we will just have a nice discussion analyzing it. Show me how you live and you will have given me the greatest theory without giving me any theory at all…
Ad hominem then.
To the person.
Because only the person and its life matters…
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