Public Discourse Analysis Series: #01 Personalising the Debate (Clementine Ford, Daily Life)

#01: The tendency to turn the disagreement of two arguments into disagreement between two people holding those arguments, done by way of argumenta ad hominem & ad personam. A person who makes an argument is attacked for their other views, other behaviour, inconsistency between current and previous views, general bias, or general conduct.

Helpful definitions (my source was Schopenhauer):
– ARGUMENTUM AD REM: ‘the claim is wrong because it is internally illogical, factually incorrect, unfounded on evidence, etc’
– ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM: ‘the claim is wrong because the speaker has previously made other claims incompatible with this one, or has engaged in behaviour incompatible with the substance of the claim’ (there is a disagreement between the substance of the claim and the speaker’s general conduct/beliefs)
– ARGUMENTUM AD PERSONAM (also known as ‘abusive ad hominem‘): ‘the claim is wrong because the speaker is an idiot’

I have been thinking about the mechanisms of public debate in Australia, and common logical fallacies. This article finally inspired me to start a series, because it exhibited very many instances of one SPECIFIC kind of logical error: of switching the focus from the argument to the person making the argument. This, of course, is not meant as a personal attack, merely as discourse analysis. I regularly enjoy Clementine Ford’s articles.

FireShot Screen Capture #002 - 'Missing the Point' - www_dailylife_com_au_news-and-views_dl-opinion_is-feminism-just-for-the-lucky-few-20130520-2jwdj_html

via Destroying the point.

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6 thoughts on “Public Discourse Analysis Series: #01 Personalising the Debate (Clementine Ford, Daily Life)

  1. Habib says:

    congratulations!!!! this is the smuggest thing I’ve ever seen on the internet. EVER!!! So smug in fact that I feel like YOUR head has disappeared up MY arse.

  2. […] finally, an interesting deconstruction of Ford’s piece has appeared on Guerrilla Semiotics that analyses her article as an example of public discourse with an argument that […]

  3. […] one notch above blatantly reducing the argument to the person (argumentum ad hominem, dealt with in the first installment of the series) is reducing the argument to its […]

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