what do you think about this philosophical statement?

“the abyss that separates any conflicting philosophical systems precludes any use of argumentum ad rem; for to appeal to evidence in attacking a position that claims to include all the evidence is to beg the question. Thus every valid philosophical argument is ad hominem.” -Johnstone Jr.

followup (Perry) - ‘This may be why every beginning philosophy student is told what happened to Socrates, judged to deserve destruction. The poison hemlock he was given to drink was literally an ad hominem attack, the same as the instruments of torture shown to Galileo, the same as Auschwitz.’

here’s the link i got it from http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Teac/TeacPerr.htm

thus demonstrating the difference between GQ and GD: If you can prove your point, it’s not a debate (or a philosophical discussion).

I understand the general idea behind the quotes, but they are a bit simplistic. They seem to equate a clash between schools of thought (e.g., the conflict between consequentialist and non-consequentialist ethics) with analytical rejection of empty “philosophies” (e.g., objectivism).

I think the point hinges on the word “claims”. If a philosophical system can be shown within its own rules to be inconsistent in some way, the way is then clear to argue for competing systems without it being an ad hominem argument, as I don’t think questioning the consistency of a philosophical system counts as petitio principii or question-begging.

:confused: But, not every philosophical system “claims to include all the evidence.” Indeed, there are many in which “evidence” would be an irrelevant concept. What evidence could prove the validity of existentialism? (Which, admittedly, I have seen characterized as “not so much a philosophical system as a bad mood.”)

I’m laughing my ass off at this. I’m sweating, brow furrowed, trying like hell to make heads or tails…and you decide it is simplistic. I give up.

The philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein referred to “falling into an abyss” in one of his notes. Sort of like, to put it bluntly, thinking to fast and falling into an abyss. I don’t have the cite at hand.

It sounds like lazy philosophy. You can’t automatically reject arguments against your theory before they’re even made merely because you think you included all evidence for it. No one is that thorough. And an argument on a theory is not ad hom, it’s disagreement. It attacks the theory, not the theorist.

It’s a worthwhile thought in the anecdotal newspaper columnist sort of way, but it’s not an actual philosophical argument. Ad Hominem doesn’t mean attacking the person you are debating. It means using the attributes of either the debater or his sources as incorrect evidence of your position. It’s confusing the literal meaning of a latin phrase with it’s use as a coined phrase to refer to a specific phenomenon. I’m sure some dopers will come along and play the same game with other Latin phrases :smiley:

If it’s just meant as an observational food for thought sort of thing, then it’s certainly an interesting point and something to think about. It’s a good starting point to building an argument against the adversarial system. While the adversarial system has it’s uses in debate and legal venues (and to a smaller extent political), it also has it’s drawbacks. What would the opposite of an adversarial system look like in a debating or legal or political forum?

I think it is also an interesting and potentially useful idea to suggest that where different philosophies conflict, there must be an error. Any true philosophy should either be not in conflict with other philosophies, or explain their errors. I think Ken Wilber is trying to do something like that.

Of course, that begs the question: which phrases will those be?

Only on the Dope. :stuck_out_tongue: