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A footnote. It seems in some of these posts "ad hominem" and "personal
attack" have been used interchangeably. It is true that often the two
coincide, and sometimes the  line between them is thin, but they are
radically distinct. This is clear in their usage. One can speak of an
"ad hominem argument," but no one would write, a "personal attack
argument."

Personal Attack:

P is false.
James believes in P.
Therefore James is a prick.

(Notice that here the falsity of P is assumed or demonstrated in
advance.)

Ad Hominen Argument:

James is a prick.

James belives in P.

Therefore P is false.

Ad hominem arguments are a type of logical fallacy. Personal attacks are
.... personal attacks. Often or usually objectionable on a maillist  but
they do not in themselves confuse the argument. Notice also that ad
hominems usually have a personal attack as their initial premise.

Carrol