Definition:Argumentum ad Passiones

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An argumentum ad passiones is a logical argument that, rather than prove or present evidence for a claim, attempts to generate support for an idea by instilling either:

an emotional attachment to the argument being presented
a feeling of embarrassment at holding a position which is subject to ridicule


a feeling of distaste for the argument being refuted.

Such arguments are commonly seen along with argumentum ad hominem.


A common example of such a technique being used is that of emotive language:

This approach is rubbish. Entities are scattered hither and thither with reckless abandon, the ordering of the argument is reminiscent of the scribblings of a two-year-old, and the cynical use of dodgy and devil-spawned axioms indicates a desire to fool the reader into believing blatantly evil falsehoods.

Without the egregious and disgracefully-motivated flim-flam[1], this should be written more dispassionately along the following lines:

This approach is suboptimal, for the following reasons:
It is suggested that the definitions for the entities used be gathered into one place for ease of access and comprehension.
The structure of the argument may be improved by changing the order of its steps.
Some of the axioms stated may be irrelevant or inaccurate and need to be reviewed.

Another commonly seen instance is:

Sorry, but it just doesn't smell right to me.

The author does not like a particular approach, but can offer no specific arguments against it, so invokes the "smell test". While offering no cogent argument, the suspicion is embedded in the mind of the reader: "There's something subtly wrong with my argument here which can be detected on the intuitive level - it may not be possible to discern this on an intellectual level, but Something's Not Right."

Used judiciously, this argument technique can be used by a cynical manipulator into getting all sorts of falsehoods believed (or, perhaps more cogently, truths doubted).

Frequently seen on the internet is:

TL;DR (which is textspeak for Too long; didn't read.)

The implication here is that the writer of the argument being refuted is a pompous windbag who uses far more words than is necessary to put the argument across. The argument can therefore be offered up for ridicule, and it is not even necessary to read it. A (supposed) précis is offered in its place, which actually presents a completely different argument.

Also known as

This is also called an appeal to emotion.

Also see


  1. See what I did there?