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Article Title: How ad hominem arguments can demolish appeals to authority


Article Summary

In the article at issue, the author makes a case for the credibility of ad hominem arguments, except in certain niche cases. Ad hominem attacks are attacks against the body of a person and not the stance or official position they represent, and these can be a good tool to counter claims to authority by people who are legal or ethical defectors themselves. In instances when the only reason a certain verdict is to be believed is that the one passing it is holding a post of authority, and they are clearly flouting the verdict through their actions themselves, ad hominem attacks serve as useful reality checks, according to the author. The example of South Korean religious leader Lee Jang-rim and his doomsday predictions is given to illustrate this point. However, in cases when the authority figure is not acting in accordance with their preaching themselves but the lesson is valuable anyway, the author urges conformity, just not on the grounds that authority says someone should conform. Children smoking and sexual assault reportage are two issues like this, per the article. These have to be paid attention to irrespective of the source that says we should listen.

Article Link: Click here to read the full article


Words to learn from this article:

Ad hominem: directed at the personal body of a public agent, rather than the post they hold or the opinion they represent.

Undermine: reduce the significance of.

Aspersions: contests to the ethical nature of something or someone.

Retort: a rude reply.

Inconsistency: the quality of not being of the same nature or opinion throughout.

Doomsday: the mythical day on which the world is supposed to end.

Defeasible: something that stands liable to be cancelled.


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