I think it is one kind of informal fallacy to dismiss a logical argument by just calling it ridiculous without actually showing how the argument is invalid. At first, I thought it to be ad hominem as it indirectly implies that the arugmenter is being stupid. Am I correct, or is there any other term to label this fallacy?

The argument itself might really be flawed or invalid, but my question here is whether it is valid to dismiss the argument just by calling it ridiculous and not showing the flaw in it.

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    There are certainly some arguments you can tell are flawed but lack the words to concretely describe how it is so. The ontological argument was like that for a lot of people. Of course it's not intrinsically wrong to call something out if you feel it's wrong, simply because you lack the ability to describe why. It might not win you any debates or successful term paper grades, but just because you can't describe it doesn't mean you're wrong or it lacks description. – stoicfury Mar 2 '13 at 22:46
  1. "Ridiculous therefore invalid": This is possibly fallacious (depending on what one considers ridiculous in general), since an argument could possibly be considered valid and ridiculous, for example because of its excessive/unnecessary length. Now what is this called? I think affirming the consequent, which is a formal fallacy, might apply. "If invalid then ridiculous, therefore if ridiculous then invalid."

  2. "Ridiculous": This could be an example of ignoratio elenchi (failing to address the issue in question, in this case: validity), an informal fallacy!

  3. "Ridiculously invalid": This could imply that that (almost) the whole argument under consideration consists of flaws. In such case, there is hardly any need to point them out.

  • Come on people, forget, at least for a moment of indulgence, Condorcet and Arrow. There are all kinds of buttons here waiting to be pressed. – user3164 Feb 25 '13 at 20:41
  • Why so urgent need for pressed buttons? – zaarcis Feb 26 '13 at 0:27
  • The premise "If invalid then ridiculous" implies that "If not ridiculous then valid", is the conclusion right? I think there is no correlation between validity and ridiculousness. – user3225 Feb 26 '13 at 2:26
  • @zaarcis My comment is due to a general "meta" observation. Methinks that if people hardly press buttons on this site, then the site perhaps doesn't work as well as intended? – user3164 Feb 26 '13 at 6:57
  • @AnowarJaman "If not ridiculous then valid" could be false and could be true, depending on what one thinks deserves ridicule and/or the intended meaning of ridiculous (which could also be: foolish, absurd). And, with regards to your second sentence, it's slightly awkward to discuss the statistical properties of one instance. – user3164 Feb 26 '13 at 7:15

A debater commits the Ad Hominem Fallacy when he introduces irrelevant personal premises about his opponent. Such red herrings may successfully distract the opponent or the audience from the topic of the debate.

The whole point of logic is to develop techniques for evaluating the cogency of arguments independently of the arguer's identity. Is the person being criticized arguing or testifying? Are reasons being presented, or must we take the person's word for something? If the person is arguing, the argument should be evaluated on its own merits; if testifying, then credibility is important.

  • There isn't always a perfect distinction between arguing and testifying. Very seldom will a debate participant be expected to attend to all the minute details of a logical proof if there is reason to believe that such details could be attended to easily but would distract from the main argument. Such hand-waving, however, should be only be accepted by people who are credibly debating in good faith. – supercat May 13 '14 at 16:17

"Fallacy spotting" seems to be in vogue at the moment, but remember that accusing someone of committing a fallacy is just a way of saying that person has failed to provide a logically valid argument. Applying false premises to a validly formed argument is not fallacious, it simply means the argument is not sound, which is also to say that the argument fails.

So to assert that another's argument is ridiculous and hence wrong with no further supporting evidence may be true or false, but as a single premise there is no further argument and cannot, by definition, be fallacious.

  • I (not an expert) think that when you say "remember [...]" and "by definition", you are referring to the definition of a formal fallacy. The OP asked about informal fallacies. – user3164 Mar 3 '13 at 10:52
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    That's a fair point, but even the definition of informal fallacies points to either supplying irrelevant premises or flawed reasoning, neither of which are the case here. To say an argument is fallacious in any respect is to claim that it fails as an argument, before its truth can be assessed. Whether the fallacy is formal, informal, blue, or green is not a distinction that's relevant to this case, because whether the assertion "that argument is ridiculous" is true or not can only be assessed by evaluating the argument which the assertion refers to. – Ryder Mar 3 '13 at 13:36
  • I assert, in hopefully the friendliest of possible ways, that you can spot at least three fallacies in that comment alone. :) Otherwise, your point is well taken. – user3164 Mar 3 '13 at 14:02
  • By all means, please do. After all, if you dismiss my argument without providing reasons, that would itself be fallacious - no? – Ryder Mar 8 '13 at 12:07

Wikipedia calls it "appeal to the stone," or argumentum ad lapidem.

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