Next Meetup

Is it ever logical to insult someone in an argument? (Repeat)
If you attended the original event on this topic, please do not RSVP to give others a chance to attend. Are we headed for a political civil war? Pew research has shown that the American public is more divided than ever in our generation, perhaps more than since the real Civil War. Along with that disparity has been a breakdown of civility and respect for the opinions of others. Social media, especially, has seen a rise of name-calling and verbal abuse. Have we lost the ability to treat our opponents with respect? Is it even reasonable to get personal in an argument? We will explore the logical issues relating to personal attacks in argument. Is it ever philosophically legitimate to question a person’s character, motive, or circumstance in trying to undermine what he or she is saying? The official name given to such an argument is “ad hominem,” which literally means “to the man.” It means that you’re drawing attention to the person instead of the argument being made, which is regarded as a logical fallacy when it’s irrelevant to the truth of the claim. On the other hand, there are instances when it may be acceptable. That would be when the source of an opinion or fact is the very person making the argument. It then becomes appropriate to challenge and question the integrity, motives, knowledge, and mental state of the alleged authority, because the personal becomes relevant. Even in a court of law, the accused has the right to cross-examine his accusers and hostile witnesses. For example, if Paul tells you that 1 + 1 equals two, and Bob says, “Oh, you can’t trust Paul; he’s a math teacher,” that would be an ad hominem fallacy, because Paul’s profession has nothing to do with the truth or falsehood of the statement. On the other hand, if Karen tells you that it snowed in Northeast Philly last week, you’d have every right to question her honesty, integrity, and even sanity—not because you know she’s wrong—but that she is the only source of that information, so the truth of her statement depends entirely on the veracity of her being a reliable witness. In other words, you would have the right to question her credibility as a witness. After examining the structure of how these logical fallacies work, we will look at examples taken from current political debates and try to decide which ones allow us to challenge the personality of the other side in a debate. Here are a few links to introduce you to the fallacy of ad hominem. As usual, linked resources are optional. If you RSVP and later find you cannot attend, please cancel your RSVP as as early as possible (not later than 48 hours before the event) so someone on the waitlist can take your place.

Bellevue Food Court (on the lower level below the shops)

200 South Broad Street · Philadelphia, PA


What we're about

The Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society is a Meetup group that brings together thoughtful people for stimulating and civically minded conversations.

We meet in a relaxed setting on almost every Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 AM and occasionally in the evening. Most of our events aim for a small group ambiance with about 10-12 participants. Sometimes we use larger spaces with different group dynamics and formats.

Almost all our events engage participants in a group conversation to explore a wide range of topics including society & culture, philosophy & religion, design, science & technology, psychology, politics, economics, and current events.

We organize a safe, facilitated forum of inquiry and exploration.

Our interactive format engages participants to speak up and be heard, to explore our assumptions, to listen and hear others, and to find and build meanings.

We value topics that matter, diverse points of view and ways of knowing, sensitive listening, and your contributions to our explorations.

In addition to ideas and resources posed by the event host(s), our conversations are informed by participants exchanging experiences, interpretations, understandings, beliefs, feelings, values, thoughts, and ways of thinking.

Through discourse and consideration these ideas can reveal a web of relationships which participants can form into meaningful insights and new possibilities.

We start the conversation so come participate and accept your own genius.

For more information about our group including our list of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit About the Greater Philadelphia Thinking Society (

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