argumentum ad hominem


By De Birhan

I just listened to Lidetu Ayalew’s interview on the recent speech that Dr.Berhanu made in remark of those killed in 2005 election. Leaving the basic cause of their disagreement aside-let me delve on the replay that Lidetu just gave.Lidetu started out by fully rejecting Dr.Berhanu’s claim about the ” irresponsibility and unethical statements” that Lidetu spoke of post the 2005 election.He then continued by putting forward four reasonings on why Dr.Berhanu was making those claims.Hearing those points convinced me that Lidetu agumentation qualities must have gone out with him from the parliament since late 2002.Viewed from the logical arguments of fallacy ,Lidetu’s arguments fulfilled , argumentum ad hominem, at least for me.
Argument Number 1.Lidetu stated that Dr.Berhanu grew up with an Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP) mentality since the age of 17 thus ending up now with a politics of ”sneaking” and ”crookedness”. Such a fallacy and weak argument is called circumstantial ad hominem meaning instead of attacking an assertion the author points to the relationship between the person making the assertion and the person’s circumstances.
Arguemnt Number 2. Lidetu argued that Dr.Berhanu has openly said ”God doesn’t exist” thus for him ”believing any claim from such a person to be true is fetching the air”.This is also another case of circumstantial ad hominem where Lidetu focuses on Dr.Berhanu’s circumstances (religion, political affiliation, etc.) which all do not affect the truth or falsity of the claim.
Argument Number 3.Lidetu said that Dr.Berhanu gave a ”false witness” eight years ago on the case involving his wife and his sister in law. ”if a man of such an act accuses me , it won’t surprise me at all”.This type of argument is a typical case of abusive ad hominem where the arguer(Lidetu) instead of attacking an assertion attacks the person who made the assertion.
Argument Number 4. Lidetu’s final propositional premises is that as Dr.Berhanu has been sentenced to death in absentia and that it is easy to assume his words and intuition would be highly affected by the sentence thus pushing him to tarnish other’s image.And that in most circumstances he was a ‘hypocrite”.Logic calls such a fallacy tu quoque ad hominem which is a form of attack on the person noting that a person does not practise what he preaches and that all his claims should be disregarded.
An ad hominem (Latin: “to the man”), also known as argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to link the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise.Such sorts of arguments are practiced in everyday life either by people with low-moral threshold and logical knowhow and hopeless arguers as in this case Lidetu.
In the case of Ethiopian politics as far as i know most oldies politics and politicians apply rgumentum ad hominem as a means of obliterating their opponents or winning their case.
In toady’s world where logical argument and rationalizations are the orders of the day,arguing as Lidetu did or as the Ethiopian regime did to refute the Human Rights Watch and European Union recent reports is nothing but just filthy.