By N. MacCormick, Ota Weinberger
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Extra resources for An Institutional Theory of Law: New Approaches to Legal Positivism (Law and Philosophy Library)
But of course what makes this case different from dismissing someone because they’ve had too much to drink is that the latter case allows for the possibility of revisiting the discussion later, when the person has sobered up. It is not common for someone to change genders, and I suspect that people who say things like Bill did in this argument would not also be thinking of revisiting the argument after such a change. So this needs to be further broken down. Here we have a case of an accusation that is in part true, since Sue is a woman, and would be relevant if entirely true, since someone’s ability to reason is relevant to the quality of their argument.
There has been some work done in adapting this idea to arguments, and developing a concept of argumentative injustice (Bondy 2010). This is an analogous concept to Fricker’s in that it involves harm done to an individual due to false identity-prejudicial stereotypes. However, instead of harming someone as a knower, it harms her as a reasoner, or someone capable of drawing conclusions from premises. 2 Particularly when we consider the close relationship between ad hominem fallacies and testimony, it ought not matter too much which term we use to talk about the injustice being done – whether it is a wrong to the person as an arguer or as a source of good information.
These assumptions can easily overlap, but they do illustrate the importance of paying attention to the context of an argument. Many of them can be addressed by paying attention to the topic of the argument, but we will see that enlarging our scope and paying attention to further features of the context is also useful. Once we situate informal fallacies in a larger context, a wide range of topics in argumentation opens up, although this paper will maintain a relatively narrow focus, looking only at ad hominem fallacies that attack people in ways that evoke identity prejudice.