Couldn't think of a better title.

But this is is the gist: an argument that is only valid because of another view that the person you're arguing against holds, that you disagree with.

You said cats are no. I say dogs are no. But don’t even try and tell me cats are yes because you already said cats are no.

  • Can you give an example?
    – Merus
    Jan 24 '19 at 6:34
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    @Dr.Shmuel Confusing.
    – Alex
    Jan 24 '19 at 6:52
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    I would say it's more like you say "It's okay to kill cats" and I say "it's not okay to kill cats because you previously expressed the opinion that cats are people", and really I believe that it's not okay to kill cats because I believe it's not okay to kill animals.
    – Alex
    Jan 24 '19 at 6:54
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    "Cats are no." Cats are no what? Cats are not good for baking and are better for frying? Can you give more content to your example so we have an idea of what you're trying to express (as is, I have no idea).
    – Mitch
    Jan 25 '19 at 17:21
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    @Mitch My best guess is that the intended situation is this: In a discussion with you, I've made some assertion X, which you don't agree with, but the discussion has moved on from that topic. (Maybe I don't even know that you disagree with X.) Now you're trying to convince me of some other assertion Y, and you present an argument that supports (or even proves) Y but presupposes X. So your argument is pretty weak from your point of view, since you don't accept X. But I, believing X, ought to accept your argument for Y based on X. Nov 21 '19 at 1:34

This question is not really about the validity of arguments, but their soundness (the truth or plausibility of the premises is irrelevant to the validity of an argument, which depends solely on the logical relationship between the premises and the conclusion).

So the question is what to call a valid argument that takes as one or more of its premises something that is believed by the person that the argument is addressed to, but not by the person putting forward the argument. In such a case, the former person is committed to regarding the argument as sound, even though the latter regards it as unsound.

One term that is occasionally used for such arguments is legitimate ad hominem. The term ad hominem, by itself, is a well-established name for the fallacy of using something logically irrelevant about a person in an attempt to refute that person's views. Here, the argument is not ad hominem in that sense (because a person's existing beliefs are relevant to what else the person is rationally committed to believing), but it is ad hominem in the literal sense ('to the specific person'), which makes legitimate ad hominem an apt term for it.

If the overall purpose of the argumentation is to criticise some aspect of the views of one's interlocutor, the argumentation can be referred to as immanent criticism. What makes it immanent is that its starting point is within the interlocutor's own viewpoint, that the criticism does not depend on the assumptions that are outside that viewpoint.

Both of the above terms can be used not only when the person who puts forward the argument disagrees with its premises, but also when that person merely suspends judgment as to whether the premises are true.

Finally, if the purpose of the argument is to show that the beliefs of one's interlocutor lead to the conclusion that is obviously false, in the hope that this will lead the interlocutor to reconsider the argument's premises, the argument is a reductio ad absurdum.

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