Argumentum ad lapidem

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The argumentum ad lapidem (Latin for "argument to the stone") is a logical fallacy that consists of dismissing an argument as absurd without explaining why it is absurd. The fallacy takes its name from Samuel Johnson's response to Bishop Berkeley:
Boswell had said of Berkeley's 'ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter and that everything in the universe is merely ideal' (both statements inaccurate) 'that the doctrine could not be refuted, though we are satisfied it is not true. Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone until he rebounded from it, "I refute it thus." '[1]
The argument is fallacious because it does not address Berkeley's point, but only asserts that the point is ridiculous. The argumentum ad lapidem has been compared to the appeal to ridicule in that the former does not even try to make an argument.[2]


  1. Collected Works of Samuel Alexander
  2. Argumentum Ad Lapidem