Category: Changing the Subject
Definition: The person's character is attacked, the person's circumstances are noted, or the person does not practice what is preached
The person presenting an argument is attacked instead of the argument itself. This takes many forms. For example, the person's character, nationality or religion may be attacked. Alternatively, it may be pointed out that a person stands to gain from a favourable outcome. Or, finally, a person may be attacked by association, or by the company he keeps. There are three major forms of Attacking the Person: (1) ad hominem (abusive): instead of attacking an assertion, the argument attacks the person who made the assertion. (2) ad hominem (circumstantial): instead of attacking an assertion the author points to the relationship between the person making the assertion and the person's circumstances. (3) ad hominem (tu quoque): this form of attack on the person notes that a person does not practise what he preaches.
Identify the attack and show that the character or circumstances of the person has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of the proposition being defended. (Barker: 166, Cedarblom and Paulsen: 155, Copi and Cohen: 97, Davis: 80)