An ad hominem is an attempt to dismiss arguments by attacking the source (the person) giving the argument. While in some instances, questions of personal conduct, character, motives, etc., are legitimate and relevant to the issue, ad hominem usually involves insulting or belittling one's opponent in order to invalidate his argument. This tactic is logically fallacious because insults and even true negative facts about the opponent's personal character have nothing to do with the logic of the opponent's arguments or assertions.
The Profumo Affair was a 1963 British political scandal named after John Profumo, Secretary of State for War. He had an affair with Christine Keeler, ...view middle of the document...
Even if Lord Astor knew the girls, I don't think it would look very respectful for a Lord to be running around with callgirls or being involved in a national scandal.
If there was a debate on drilling in the region and Advocate A argued that it might be damaging to the environment and Side B came back with, “You can't believe A because he's a womanizer and a heavy drinker.” That is a fallacy. It has no relevance in the argument. It is an attempt to distract from the subject. I believe this tactic is used when the opposing side has a weak argument.
In many cases, using ad hominem, has backfired on the side using it. A lot of political campaigns try this “mud-slinging” to turn voters against their opponent. Most pole's, however, show that using this type of campaigning usually causes the viewers to turn against the nominee that is trying to make his/her opponent look bad. But, some times this tactic works. I don't know if any of you remember Christine O'Donnell. She was a GOP candidate for the Deleware Senate. She was doing fairly well in the primary's until an ad ran claiming she was a witch. I'm not saying it's the reason she lost the election, but it had a huge impact of her supporters.
Another use of ad hominem is “Ad hominem tu quoque” which is basically , “YOU TOO!” For example, a father may tell his son not to start smoking as he will regret it when he is older, and the son may point out that his father is or was a smoker. This does not alter the fact that his son may regret smoking when he is older.