Mark Walker wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Lee Daniel Crocker" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> > >> At the very least I must say that the evidence your average medical
> > >> ethicist is significantly more virtuous than I am is somewhat less
> > >> than compelling.
> > > An ad hominem for all seasons.;)
> > Attacking a _profession_ is fair game, because people choose their
> > professions, and are therefore rightly judged by those choices.
> > A medical ethicist is someone who has willfully chosen as a profession
> > to increase death and suffering in the world.
> Generally an ad hominen argument is considered to be an illegitimate form of
> argument because it fails to provide the right sort of evidential relation
> between premise(s) and conclusion. John claimed the following:
> " I have never, absolutely never, heard a medical ethicist say anything
> that could
> not be put in one of 2 categories:
> A) Wrong
> B) Bloody obvious."
> Let us suppose that John's claim about their level of virtue is correct. How
> does this provide evidential support for believing that everything they say
> can be put into one of either two categories? Suppose it turns out that both
> Aristotle and Kant were a couple of dog-kicking baby-punching immoral pricks
> in practice. Would this in itself constitute a refutation of their
> theoretical writings on ethics?
It is disengenuous to expand the definition of ad hominem to attacks on
an entire profession, for there are many circumstances that anyone can
think of where such attacks are entirely warranted and are supported by
the facts. For example:
"I have never, absolutely never, heard a politician say anything that is
not either a) a lie, or b) bloody obvious."
or (worried about invoking Godwin's Law):
"I have never, absolutely never, heard of a Nazi do or say anything that
was not either a) stupid or b) evil."
Saying it in this way also leaves open the possibility that the accused
group may have individuals who may have said or done something outside
these possibilities when out of the speakers sight or hearing. It is not
an absolutist statement. A truely absolutist statement that would be ad
hominem would be to say: "Medical ethicists NEVER say anything which is
not either wrong or bloody obvious."
Now, so far as 'medical ethicists' are concerned, I have heard many in
the medical profession refer to them as the "superstition liason
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