The Ad Baculum Re-Clothed

Alan Brinton


In several recent articles, Michael Wreen has given a plausible account of the structure of ad baculum argument and argued that it is neither inherently fallacious nor even commonly so. He has also, arguing mainly in terms of examples, attempted to show that a number of common assumptions about the ad baculum are incorrect. Most controversially, he argues that the ad baculum is not essentially dialectical and that it does not essentially involve threatening. I argue that the genuineness of his examples as cases of ad baculum is doubtful, except insofar as they do at least implicitly have these features. I argue further that the stock cases used by Copi and other textbook writers extensionally define the ad baculum, which is a strategy already familiar to students from ordinary life, which is essentially first personlsecondperson, and which does essentially involve a threat.


Ad baculum, dialectical, force, logical form, sleaze factor, threat

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ISSN: 0824-2577