[ExI] Striving for Objectivity Across Different Cultures

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue Aug 19 22:12:21 UTC 2008

At 11:59 AM 8/19/2008 -0500, I wrote hastily:

>A coarse example of such an error (which an argumentum ad personam 
>might rebut) is standing up in court and vehemently arguing at the 
>top of your voice that the blow you received to the throat has 
>rendered you voiceless.

That was probably a rotten example, or no example at all. I suppose 
it's more along the lines of appealing to the person's avowed 
convictions and showing how those actually support an argument that 
the person has previously dismissed or reviled. This could be done 
sympathetically ("Well, then, if you're sure that's true, doesn't it 
also follow, perhaps rather surprisingly, that--?") or aggressively 
("Didn't you just say exactly the opposite, and swore to its truth 
upon the life of your dear little old grey haired mother and your 
immortal soul? Can't you see the inconsistency here?"). The latter 
method of persuasion might not work too well, except perhaps in court... :)

I agree with BillK that the term "ad personam" itself is misleading; 
it would be preferable to have something more transparent in English. 
"Argument from thorough-going consistency with your deepest 
principles" is a bit of mouthful, though.

Damien Broderick

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