Two people X and Y. What is the name of the argument that falls under X not being as "good" as Y, but X knows Y is doing something wrong in a subject. But Y's primary counter-argument says that X isn't creditable because he isn't as good.

An easy example to get the point across, but isn't the subject I'm applying it to, would be weight lifting. I know a buddy is doing incorrect form, but he lifts more than me. Since he lifts more than me/has been doing it longer/has more experience in said subject, he feels like he doesn't need to take my advice and say that he's doing it incorrectly, even though he's doing the movement incorrectly. He would only take advice from someone stronger/more experienced. (I'm not looking for an answer to this such as you need to talk with him about getting hurt...ect..ect.. Just using this to paint the picture).

Is this a category for this argument? Does it have it's own title or wiki page?

Related: Is argument that two theories are equally valid because I am not an expert "argument ad ignoratum"

  • A side note: there are parts of life where that argument is actually a reasonable approach. They tend to be places where logical arguments are tenuous at best, or where the actual topic is hard to talk to.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 0:50

4 Answers 4


Depending on the details, you might classify it as involving an inappropriate "appeal to authority".


I found the answer using the direction Dave lead me too.

The answer I was looking for is called "ad hominem", which is short for "argumentum ad hominem".

Here's the wiki: Wiki


I wouldn't say this is ad hominem, although this kind of things is always rather subjective. Ad hominem is using something completely irrelevant about someone's character as an argument. As Wikipedia puts it:

responding to arguments by attacking a person's character, rather than to the content of their arguments.

So, an exaggerated example would be:

Alice: I think people should do more volunteer work.
Bob: yeah, well, but you don't do any volunteer work yourself.

That Bob uses Alice's character as an argument is essential: this argument works only for Alice. In argumentation, it is important to abstract from things like this and make a generic argument, which can be reused when die hard volunteer Chris comes along making the same claim as Alice.

In your case, the fact that X is not as good as Y is not completely irrelevant. It is a fallacy, but I would rather say it's Y's fallacy to appeal to his own authority. Implicitly, he's not only saying that X is not good enough - he's also using that he's better.

As I see it (but again, there's room for different interpretations), ad hominem arguments are never generic, while appeals to authority are: Bob can't use the 'you don't do any volunteer work' against Chris. However, he can use the 'I'm an expert in this topic'. This is because ad hominem is an attack, and appeal to authority is a defense.

  • But the first quoted line is exactly what I was looking for. I stated in my initial question that I wasn't looking for an exact answer to my example, but more so the overall situation. I knew that it would be confusing! My buddy always derails my constructive criticism by attacking something that I do and taking the topic off of his faults. So in a nut shell, he is doing what the first quoted line is.
    – Luke
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 20:40
  • Does that make more sense than my example in my question?
    – Luke
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 20:40
  • @Luke I don't know your friend. It's tricky, and, again, subjective. Either way, both arguments are bogus (although the appeal to authority less). Urge your conversational partner to give an argument concerning the discussed matter.
    – user2953
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 20:42

I tend to see this as a condition of the Halo Effect. Where X may have superior knowledge but Y's superior ability supplies a halo that obscures and bias the judgement of others.

  • 1
    First off, welcome to philosophy.SE. "Halo Effect" is more of a common term than a philosophical one. If you think about it, the "Halo Effect" is a way of describing what happens in an appeal to authority...
    – virmaior
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 0:54

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