Virtues, Evidence, and Ad Hominem Arguments

Patrick Bondy


Argumentation theorists are beginning to think of ad hominem arguments as generally legitimate. Virtue argumentation theorists argue that a character trait approach to argument appraisal can explain why ad hominems would are legitimate, when they are legitimate. But I argue that we do not need to appeal to virtue argumentation theory to explain the legitimacy of ad hominem arguments; a more straightforward evidentialist approach to argument appraisal is also committed to their legitimacy. I also argue that virtue argumentation theory faces some important problems, and that whereas the virtue-theoretic approach in epistemology is (arguably) well-motivated, that motivation does not carry over to virtue argumentation theory.


ad hominem; argument appraisal; evidentialism; virtue theory

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ISSN: 0824-2577