Moral Deliberation and Ad Hominem Fallacies

Journal of Moral Philosophy 13 (5):507-529 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Many of us read Peter Singer ’ s work on our obligations to those in desperate need with our students. Famously, Singer argues that we have a moral obligation to give a significant portion of our assets to famine relief. If my own experience is not atypical, it is quite common for students, upon grasping the implications of Singer ’ s argument, to ask whether Singer gives to famine relief. In response it might be tempting to remind students of the ad hominem fallacy of attacking the person advancing an argument rather than the argument itself. In this paper I argue that the “ ad hominem reply ” to students ’ request for information about Singer is misguided. First I show that biographical facts about the person advancing an argument can constitute indirect evidence for the soundness / unsoundness of the argument. Second, I argue that such facts are relevant because they may reveal that one can discard the argument without thereby incurring moral responsibility for failing to act on its conclusion even if the argument is sound

Similar books and articles

The Immorality of Having Children.Stuart Rachels - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (3):567-582.
Ad Hominem Fallacies, Bias, and Testimony.Audrey Yap - 2013 - Argumentation 27 (2):97-109.
Equivocating the Ad Hominem.Daniel Putman - 2010 - Philosophy 85 (4):551-555.
The Generalization Argument Revisited.Richard R. Brockhaus & Gary M. Hochberg - 1975 - Philosophical Studies 28 (2):123 - 129.
Foreign Aid and the Moral Value of Freedom.Martin Peterson - 2004 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 7 (3):293-307.
Just Cause: Determinism and Moral Responsibility.John Allen Carstensen - 2003 - Dissertation, Fuller Theological Seminary, School of Theology

Analytics

Added to PP
2015-02-24

Downloads
670 (#12,883)

6 months
38 (#29,889)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Uri D. Leibowitz
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

References found in this work

Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.
Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Oxford University Press USA.
Famine, Affluence, and Morality.Peter Singer - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3):229-243.
Culpability and Ignorance.Gideon Rosen - 2003 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (1):61-84.

View all 25 references / Add more references