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Re: Social Committee proposal

* Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> [070130 06:48]:
> > I think one should be careful with such a rule, as "ad hominem" is
> > quite overused.
>         Argument against the man, as opposed to argument against the
>  issue being discussed is over used?

I think the term is a bit overused. I hardly ever saw a strict
"argumentum ad hominem" (in the sense of "Person A makes claim X;
There is something objectionable about Person A; Therefore claim X is
false") in Debian lists. When there is a discussion, two parties are
involved. Arguing with a person is not ad hominem. Or if it is, then
claiming the other person used argumentum ad hominem definitly is even
more so.

> > Especially if it's about people's behaviour speaking about what that
> > people just did it is often misused to just meaning speaking to your
> > opponent.
>         When speaking about technical issues, why is this ever
>  relevant? Present arguments  against the opinion/solution provided,
>  and forget who said what.  Why should the characteristics of the man
>  making the argument have relevance to the issue at hand?

Sadly no discussion is entirely technically. Humans are involved with
all their heart and emotions. And refuting an argument as stupidity
is easily conveived as accusing of stupidity of the argumenter.
Such a problem easily escalates easily with the help of both parties.
In such a situation one side often accuses the other of "ad hominem",
which normaly is just used as try to "win by defining who is good and
bad" instead of a try to rationalize or deescalating the situation.

> > This gets especially exhausting if some discusions went into
> > meta-discussions, as when the discussion is about what people just
> > wrote in the discussion, where the issue at hand is the people
> > discussing.
>         Such meta discussions, usually, are off topic, suck time,
>  energy, and attention away, and cause flame wars. Something I think
>  we should avoid.

That's why I dislike the term "ad hominem". Where is appears the
discussion is already at the meta level. And usually at the calling
names type of discussion, too. I thus think avoiding that catch
phrase can only help.

	Bernhard R. Link

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