Ad Hominem Fallacy Examples | Meaning, History, Types, Examples and Meaning

Ad Hominem Fallacy Examples: We already know that colleges and academic settings value debates and arguments. However, not all ideas are perfect logically or rhetorically. Some have those few logical and rhetorical errors known as “logical fallacies” and are very common. Among the logical fallacies, one of them is the Ad Hominem Fallacy.

Using the Ad hominem fallacy in arguments can be pretty powerful since not answering an Ad hominem attack is inevitable in an argument. So now that we are familiar with the term, Ad Hominem let us go through the meaning behind this Fallacy and go through the examples such as the Ad Hominem fallacy in advertisement and Ad Hominem Fallacy in media.

Ad Hominem Fallacy

What is Ad Hominem Fallacy

Argumentum ad hominem refers to the different types of arguments, among which many of which are fallacious. The Ad Hominem Fallacy is a practice that has found the usage of the Ad hominem fallacy in all different aspects ranging from history to the modern ages.As used in post-medieval texts, ad hominem literally means “to the person” when it comes to New Latin.

In centuries past, the terms ad hominem and argumentum ad hominem were an important argumentative legacy when justifying arguments. Today we hear a more common way to use this Fallacy, which refers to attacking the opponent’s character instead of targeting their opinions. Ad hominem still refers to making personal concerns the priority.

Formal ad hominem reasoning occurs when an argument based on a syllogism or deduction is valid regardless of the presenter, while informal ad hominem reasoning occurs when the presenter relies on arguments that are based on actual evidence.

The Ad hominem fallacy can be seen vividly in political arguments.

They are considered unethical for the reason that politicians can use them to manipulate voters’ opinions against an opponent without discussing the issue at hand. Ad hominem arguments often come up in politics as “mudslinging.” This method of Argument basically comes off as a strategic, manipulative argument.

History of Ad Hominem Fallacy

The first evident Ad Hominem Fallacy was detected during ancient Greece. There has been a history of ad hominem arguments in the West since the ancient Greeks. Aristotle explained in Sophistical Refutations the fallaciousness of attacking the person but not the Argument.

In such arguments, the assumptions and the various concepts of the opponent were used as a dialectical strategy against the opponents. This was deliberately done to point out the fault of the opponent and to hide their own assumptions and arguments. According to Dominican friar and Cardinal Tommaso Maria Zigliara, the academic discussions of the past could be divided into two categories.

One is known as the absolute demonstration, and the other one is called the relative demonstration. Among these two distinct types of demonstration, the relative demonstration is considered to be the Ad Hominem Fallacy.

In this type of demonstration, the principles which are admitted or the actions committed by the person we are arguing with are used against them for the sake of refutation and try to prove the opponent’s Argument wrong in a way it would benefit the Ad Hominem attacker and make the opponent believe in the attacker’s theory.

But gradually moving forward to the twentieth century, instead of making the opponent feel in the view of the other party, the attacker now directly attacks their opponent. Nowadays, the usage of Ad Hominem is regarded as a direct attack on someone’s character and ethics in order to defeat them in the Argument.

Ad Hominem Fallacy Examples2

Types of Ad Hominem Fallacy

Ad Hominem Fallacy is regarded as an informal fallacy, also known as the Genetic Fallacy. Since we already know about the in-depth meaning of the Ad Hominem Fallacy and its history, did you know there are actually different types of Ad Hominem Fallacy that exist? Let us look at the list of Ad Hominem Fallacies.

  • Circumstantial Ad Hominem
  • Appeal to move
  • Guilt by association
  • Ergo decedo
  • Ad Hominem Tu quoque
  • Whataboutism
  • Abusive Ad Hominem
  • Poisoning the well
  • Argument from commitment

Circumstantial Ad Hominem

The circumstantial Ad Hominem is an attack that depends on the bias of a particular source. When using the circumstantial Ad Hominem, it points out someone’s situation in some circumstances, for example, some job, property or relationship in such a way that they would feel disposed to take a particular position.

The circumstantial Ad Hominem is not always fallacious since it can actually make an excellent sound argument if the premises are kept correct and relevant. The most straightforward example with this would be a brother, asks his sister not to smoke since smoking would damage her health, and in return, the sister replies by pointing out the fact that either he is a smoker, or he was a smoker too.

Ad Hominem Fallacy Examples 1

Appeal to move

Appeal to move is a particular type of ad Hominem derived from the circumstantial Ad Hominem. In this type of ad, Hominem, the Argument is challenged by questioning the motives of the Prosper of that particular Argument.

Guilt by association

The guilt by association takes place when someone is accused of being in a suspected connection with another group or person who has a bad reputation. The guilt by association goes by :

  • Individual A makes a claim in individual D
  • But Individual A also has a suspect with a group C who has a bad reputation.
  • Hence, the views and arguments of individual A are questionable.

Ergo decedo

The Ergo decedo Ad Hominem, also known as the argumentum ergo decedo or traitorous Ad Hominem, is taken from the Latin, which literally translates to “therefore leave” or also as “then go off”. In this type of Argument, the criticism of someone is accused of being motivated from an undisclosed affiliation to an outgroup.

In this type of ad Hominem argument, instead of responding to the complaint, the critic is being responded with implied allegations. The critic is accused of not respecting the customs and the values of the group that had been criticized. The critic is called a traitor and asked to avoid the topic as a whole or even to leave the group criticized.

Ad Hominem Tu quoque

Ad Hominem Tu quoque, which literally means “You also”, is a response to a personal attack’, which itself can be turned into a personal attack. Ad Hominem Tu quoque goes by :

  • Individual C makes a claim b
  • Individual B attacks by saying that individual C holds the property of Z, which is malicious.
  • Individual C defends themselves by responding that Individual B holds the same Z properties too.


Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is derived from Tu quoque Ad Hominem. In this type of Fallacy, the opponent’s Position is charged with hypocrisy instead of direct refuting.

Abusive Ad Hominem

Abusive Ad Hominem is when the opponent is referred to with offensive language which is not connected to the conversation or the Argument.

Poisoning the well

The poisoning of the wall is an informal fallacy, in which some adverse or Personal information of the targeted person is deliberately distributed among the audience since the attacker intends to discredit or ridicule the Argument the targeted person is about to present.

Argument from commitment

The Argument from commitment is considered to be a which is used on the basis of dialectical strategy. This type of Fallacy uses beliefs, assumptions and convictions. That is, this type of Fallacy holds arguments only against the ones which can be constructed on the basis of what people think or hold to be true.

This type of ad Hominem Fallacy is also known as the ex concessions.

Examples of Ad Hominem Fallacy

Proceeding on, let us go through some common examples of the Ad Hominem Fallacy used in the different aspects of our life.

In Political Debates

  • When a particular politician disregards another politician during a conversation or a campaign when questioned about some specific policy, like “Well according to me I think we should once have a look at Senator Wilson’s failures regarding the topic.”
  • When someone’s Personal beliefs are attacked in a debate, like “You don’t even belong to a Muslim community. How can you even be so sure about the topics related to them?”
  • When the views of a political party are being generalized and used as an insulting argument to only a person associated with that group, like “I’ve never seen your party do a single thing they have promised, so I don’t see you doing it either.”
  • When someone’s physical traits are being attacked like, “I would have puked seeing that face in the voting polls, how did y’all even vote for them.”

In Media

  • When attacking someone’s sexual orientation in an argument based on the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. For example, if a straight individual supports the LGBTQ+ rights, then the attacker disregards them by saying things like “You are probably not straight, which is why you are supporting them” or “The only reason you are supporting them is probably that you are also a part of them and you are lying right now about your sexual orientation.”
  • When someone’s background or beliefs are used against them, for example, “Now that Team B has lost against Team A, of course, you would say that Team A has cheated since you were before a part of Team B.”
  • When attacking someone’s religious beliefs like “if you were a believer of God, then probably you would have earned a lot of money, but since you don’t believe in God, then God shall not treat you correctly. You would suffer”
  • As we already know, One of the most common usages of the Ad Hominem Fallacy in the media is attacking the socioeconomic background of a specific individual, for example, “But you were always laden with money, perhaps if you were not rich you would know the struggle.”
  • Using the Gender Tag to devalue an argument, like “This issue can only be handled by men, so as a female participant l, you should not share your opinion in whatever way.”

In the court

  • When the defendant’s character is attacked, instead of talking about the actual information and facts about the crime committed, for example, when the person is assaulted with “Accordingly, you did not have a stable job since 2000, and the ones who have worked are not even providing you with a good reference, so I could you deny you are not the stealer.”
  • When someone’s geographical limit is brought into the Argument which prevents them from making a clear judgement. For example, “You have only lived in America; how do you even get any record of your Indian Friends.”
  • When using racial slurs against someone of a particular race in an argument involving individuals belonging from different races. It goes something like, “I wish you would know the struggle and the threat of being a transfer Asian student in America.”
  • When pointing out the flaws of someone in an argument, like “you ever cheated on your partner, and you believe the court to believe in you”,.

In everyday life

  • In our everyday lives, an extremely simple or friendly conversation might turn into an ad Hominem Fallacy. Something which is supposed to look innocent can also be considered as a personal attack on someone. So let us go through some of the examples of Ad Hominem in everyday life.
  • When someone’s education level is used against them in order to disregard them, this will go something like, “Is it because you failed your eleventh grade for the third time that you are so good with the studies from the classes.”
  • When attacking a teacher based on their intelligence or background. For example, “We already know that you don’t belong to an English first language school, so I can see why you cannot grade us properly on English or even speak proper English.”
  • When someone’s age is pushed into an argument to cancel them out of a conversation, for example, saying things like “Aren’t you just 16? You are too young to be talking about LGBTQ+ rights”.
  • When someone uses the relationship status to invalidate someone’s opinions, for example, “You have never been in a relationship, how would you even know about love and other stuff?”
  • When someone’s ethnicity is brought into an argument to put them out of the conversation, for example, “You weren’t even born in the States, so you never understand

Takeaways from this article

  • Not all arguments are perfect in a logical and rhetorical way.
  • The rhetorical errors in arguments are known as “Logical Fallacy”.
  • Ad Hominem is a type of “Logical Fallacy”.
  • Ad Hominem is used as a strategy when trying to get a win in an argument.
  • The word Ad Hominem literally means “to the person”.
  • Formal Ad Hominem occurs with an argument that is based on syllogism or if the deduction is valid.
  • Informal Ad Hominem is based on personal but actual evidence.
  • Ad Hominem is sometimes considered to be unethical.
  • Ad Hominem Fallacy can be highly manipulative.
  • In politics, the Ad Hominem Fallacy is called “mudslinging”.
  • The first usage evidence of Ad Hominem Fallacy was found in ancient Greece.
  • Arguments are divided into two types, absolute demonstration and relative demonstration.
  • The relative demonstration is the Ad Hominem Fallacy.
  • In ancient times, Ad Hominem Fallacy was used to make your opponent believe in your own theory but prove them wrong, while in modern days, Ad Hominem Fallacy is used to attack the opponent directly.
  • There are many different types of Ad Hominem Fallacy.
  • Circumstantial Ad Hominem Fallacy is when someone’s Position is being questioned.
  • Appeal to move is derived from circumstantial Ad Hominem Fallacy.
  • In the appeal to move, the motives of the prosper are questioned.
  • The guilt of association is when someone is accused because they are related to a particular group with a bad reputation.
  • Ergo decedo Ad Hominem Fallacy is when someone is considered to be the traitor of the group criticized.
  • The Ad Hominem Tu quoque takes place when a personal attack is returned with the same Personal episode to the first attacker.
  • Whataboutism is when someone’s Position is charged with hypocrisy.
  • Abusive Ad Hominem is when abusive language is used against someone in the Argument, which is not even related to the topic.
  • Poisoning of the wall takes place when someone’s personal information is deliberately distributed to the audience to ridicule the person.
  • Argument from commitment is considered to be a dialectical strategy in which only what people think is the truth is considered to be argumentative.

It takes only an instant for a downright polite conversation to turn into Ad Hominem territory. Ad Hominem Fallacy ends up exposing someone’s prejudices which ends up making the person feel uncomfortable.

Hence it’s necessary for us to know about the meaning and the usage of this Fallacy since it would help us defend ourselves if faced with one. At times we end up using Ad Hominem without even knowing about it and end up attacking someone’s Personal beliefs; hence we should have an idea of how to prevent it.

Ad Hominem can actually be an excellent source of Argument if placed with relevant information, but nevertheless, it does attack someone’s personal prejudices. Hence it is best to avoid them in private life

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