The Bonfire of Fallacies
Ravikiran and Jivha have an interesting topic up for discussion on their sites. Ad Hominem fallacies.
For those who are unaware of the existence of such a fallacy, let me explain in a nutshell. Ad Hominem is Latin for "against the man" or "to the man". So an ad hominem argument (or fallacy) is an argument against your opponent rather than against the arguments he/she has put forth. As a result, the argument often tends to be irrelevant to the logic and/or facts of the opponent's arguments and hence is classified under "Fallacies of Relevance". Further reading material on the subject is available at places such as this or this or this ... and so on!
Ravikiran takes the example of a rape victim who's probably trying to convince the authorities that she was indeed raped. His contention in the example is that it is not a case of ad hominem fallacy.
Alleged Rape Victim: The accused raped me.In my view, Ravikiran is technically absolutely right! Ignoring an argument/evidence in the favour of extraneous considerations such as the victim's proximity to the perpetrator or the victim's past sexual behaviour/proclivities, will make it an argumentum ad hominem. In the absence of logical arguments and/or evidence from the victim's side, the argument does not qualify as argumentum ad hominem.
Lawyer: Is it true that the night previous to the alleged rape, you willingly slept with the accused?
A R V: Yes
Lawyer: In that case, why should we believe that the accused raped you?
If a woman has willingly slept with the accused the night before, she wouldn't have much credibility is she claims that the accused raped her the next night.
However, it would be a an ad hominem argument if we persist in disbelieving in a claim even if there is other evidence to back it up, solely because of the credibility of the person making it
Jivha questions Ravikiran's opinion about the 'relevance' of past sexual history of the alleged victim to the present crime. But I feel that Ravikiran's post precludes such questions by mentioning...
Now don't quibble with me saying "But that is not how I define ad hominem" My definition takes care to distinguish between a fallacy and a reaonable guess. Your's doesn't. So there.When the past sexual history of the alleged victim is considered to be 'relevant' to the present crime, in absence of argument/evidence, it turns into a 'reasonable guess'... an extrapolation... a supposition!!
Ad Hominem fallacy involves arguing against the opponent rather than against his views or arguments. If you remove the opponent's arguments out of the equation, the moment you say anything against the opponent himself, it falls down to the level of an insult!
Being a terribly slow thinker, I still haven't figured out how Kingsley's factor of 'intent' fits into the picture. But I'm trying!!