Maybe the most famous example can be law discussions, yet it is commonly used in everything.

  • All rapists should be killed.
  • This works only for the purpose of vengeance, not justice.
  • You wouldn't say this if someone close to you were to get raped

From the first look, I thought it was argumentum ad misericordiam, however this is very distinct from the other examples of argumentum ad misericordiam.

  • Maybe argumentum ad hominem... Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 13:51
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA I have seen so many examples of ad hominem but it doesn't feel that. Ad misericordiam fits better because at least there is misery, albeit a possible future one.
    – ck1987pd
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 14:19
  • 1
    I guess it's an appeal to spite. Ad hominem arguments are a little bit different but closely related.
    – urhen
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 15:41
  • @urhen This feels closely related than ad hominem. But it still feels different
    – ck1987pd
    Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 20:49
  • 1
    I would argue that the fallacy is the non-sequitur. It may well be true that you would react with vengeance if you were the victim. The point is that a civilised society (that is, a society which consists of settled collective living around significant public infrastructure) cannot indulge those demands, at least not to the degree where almost every crime results in mutilation or death and regardless of all other considerations.
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


This is called appeal to emotion, argumentum ad passiones: "manipulation of the recipient's emotions in order to win an argument, especially in the absence of factual evidence". In other words, dispassionate reasoning (in this case, about rape) is replaced with evoking sentiment. The underlying device of "making it personal" is also at the root of many ad hominem attacks, but this is not one of them. It is not to disparage opponents that getting personal here is for, but rather to inflame them.

Like all informal fallacies this one has a rational kernel to it. The point of real life arguments isn't academic, they are ultimately about how we should act and behave. And that depends not only on "cold reason", but also on value judgments of what is "best", and in case of crimes like rape and murder, on moral judgments of what is fair, just and right. Reason has limited application there, and evoking emotions is often a means to question our judgment and tune up our moral compass. This is why a justified response to a dismissive "this is no big deal" can be "you didn't live it", and why bringing up the horrors of slavery can be appropriate in debating white supremacy. There are times to be cold blooded, and there are times not to be, in good measure. What truly makes the OP example a fallacy is that it goes beyond that, and uses emotions to back something that is clearly over the top. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.


It does not have to be a fallacy. In relative morality, each rational agent needs to justify his motives. And the judgement can also be based on personal experience.

Since relative morality is relative, rational agents in a society do not necessarily agree on consensus morals. If such agent debate morality of certain actions, it can be to philosophically valid to point out that a difference in judgement is due to a difference in experience.

A typical example for the non-fallacy is white males making claims that discrimination against women or non-white people is not a big deal, and that suggested measures are discriminating against white men.

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