Ad hominem arguments and virtue epistemology: How to attack the person without committing a logical or moral failure in the attempt
The aim of this paper is to offer an explanation of the legitimacy of certain ad hominem arguments by appealing to virtue epistemology. The main thesis is that there are ad hominem arguments that are acceptable if they are conceived as inductive arguments, whose soundness is given by a fair appeal to the interlocutor’s epistemic vices. It is argued that some abusive ad hominem arguments are acceptable if they rest on a fair pointing out of the interlocutor’s lack of agential intellectual virtues. Likewise, some circumstantial ad hominem arguments would be acceptable if they rest on a fair pointing out of the interlocutor’s lack of non-agential intellectual virtues. The paper exposes some problems of other attempts to vindicate ad hominem arguments.
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ad hominem arguments, virtue epistemology, reliabilism, responsabilism, agency
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