So named by Ayn Rand
in The Virtue of Selfishness
, the argument from intimidation bears a relation to the argument ad hominem
("Debater X is a cad
, therefore his argument is false"). It deserves the status of logical fallacy
The argument from intimidation is a means of avoiding debate and reducing any argument to a shambles by accusing the opponent of being of unsound moral character, almost always without backing up the accusations. The unskilled and unconfident debater may reel under the moral attack, unable to defend themselves against something based entirely on psycology and not on logic.
The argument from intimidation usually takes a form similar to -
"Only a pinko liberal could possibly support that view!"
"You don't believe that do you?"
"Only a heartless swine supports capitalism nowadays!"
All accompanied by the raising of eyebrows, scornful tones and other signals of disapproval. And yet the argument from intimidation is easy to counter if you know how, and your greatest weapon in doing so is moral certainty. You cannot allow yourself to be intimidated if you know your reasoning is true, and when faced with the argument from intimidation simply look your opponent in the eye and demand they back up their accusation with logic and reason. Never assume your attacker can back up his argument unless he has demonstrated he can: vague threats of disapproval are no grounds for a debate.