Incidentally I found an old copy from a book, with this claim: “Hence most ad hominem criticisms are really forms of the argument from analogy” (Douglas Walton, Ad Hominem Arguments, Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama Pr., 1998, p. 196).

Walton is one of the greatest authorities on argumentation theory. From this text passage, the question arises whether we may find an example of an ad hominem argument, which is not also simultaneously an argument from analogy.

(This is a new, less broad version of the question posed on 10 June 2017; note that the comments until 12 June 2017 refer to the previous version.)

  • 1
    The argumentum ad hominem is a Fallacy. Jun 10, 2017 at 16:07
  • The argument from analogy is a type of inductive argument. Jun 10, 2017 at 16:07
  • 1
    @ Mauro ALLEGRANZA: The argumentum ad hominem must not necessarily be a fallacy. … Because it may be a valid analogy. Problems with a person in previous situations (this is the inductive argument you mentioned in the above comment) may be deductively conveyed (by analogy) into a new situation. Why should this be fallacious?
    – user26880
    Jun 10, 2017 at 16:40
  • @Zeus there is an internet forum rule "take the ball not the man"
    – user25714
    Jun 11, 2017 at 20:20
  • @user3293056: But, at a certain point, it is – also in the internet − a rule to use the argumentum ad hominem; to wit when they call somebody a troll; and this is hardly regarded as a fallacy. Additionally, this is also an argument from analogy, since the former negative experience with the man is conveyed into the future as negative prognosis. Thus, the suspicion arises that the argumentum ad hominem is a subclass of the argument from analogy. − And if this were true, this whole field of argumentation theory would be wanting (since I see dozens of ignored similar coherences).
    – user26880
    Jun 12, 2017 at 0:05

3 Answers 3


It seems that most ad hominem arguments are analogies. Comparisons of people to Hitler and Stalin are among the most familiar. Often the comparison is inappropriate, but it is still an analogy.

However, I would say that the truly irrelevant ad hominem argument fails even as an analogy. Person A argues that two plus two equals four, and Person B disagrees, pointing out that Person A has been convicted of a crime. There is no comparison of Person A to anyone, only the allegation that a character defect can invalidate the answer to an arithmetic problem.

  • But the substantiated character defect refers to an act in the past, which is conveyed into the presence. How is it conveyed? By analogy-assisted deduction, i.e. someone who does not know that 2+2=4 does not believe him because he lied in the past.
    – user26880
    Jun 15, 2017 at 5:42
  • Or, as noted above it is a genetic fallacy and not an analogy, misattributing different aspects of an identity causation of different sorts that are not traceable causally. Lying doesn't make you bad at arithmetic, and lying about arithmetic is silly, since third parties can check it.
    – user9166
    Jun 15, 2017 at 12:47

Ad hominem arguments are also often genetic fallacies. "Why should we consider the logic of a lesbian about family planning?" "Don't even bother to start mansplaining." "How could you know what is wrong with our two-party system? You aren't even an American!"

This can't really be an argument from analogy, because bigotry is resistant to previous experience and is often formed in the absence of evidence.

The assumption that two lesbians/men/foreigners will be alike in some way is, in some sense, an analogy, but it is not reasonable to assume that this is one of those ways. So the genetic fallacy kicks in before the analogy has any basis for application.


What about an argument that says: "He completed the first grade, and now he comes to us and tells us how to run our atomic supercollider. Absurd." In the case that we are speaking to an excellent Princeton physicist, i.e., the argument simply leaves out the rest of the educational attainment, but does not lie.

Any such distortion through selection of the facts seems to 'slander the speaker, rather than speak to his merits or those of his argument,' if that is what is meant by "ad hominem argument" in this question.

Maybe more accurate is simply to say: He has always been wrong about everything. Simply a fact about him.

Although, it is as though we make an analogy by suggesting that the way he has been up till now, is like, alike, the way he is now.

Perhaps, strict sense, the form of ad hominem is itself analogy, between past and present.


I would add in passing that "ad hominem" has, also, quite distinctly different senses.

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