Ipse dixit – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

Ipse dixit is a Latin expression whose literal meaning is “he said it himself”. It refers to an argument that lacks foundation, but is said by someone of authority.

The expression ipse dixit refers to the argument that cannot be refuted due to the quality and authority of its issuer, but in turn lacks proof. It is mainly used in law, to refer to testimonies that lack validity, but are accepted by the source from which they come. Practically, it is categorized as dogma.

Origin of the expression ipse dixit

There are several theories about the origin of this locution, but the most accepted affirms its origin is in the Pythagoreans. Cicero, a famous Roman orator and writer, collects ipse dixit, translated as “he said it himself”. This was the answer that the Pythagoreans gave to the affirmations of their teacher.

This fact has evolved over time to become what we know today. Thus, it is an expression that is used to criticize that an argument is unfounded and that it tries to be respected only by the authority from whom it comes.

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Relationship between ipse dixit and argument from authority

The argument of authority is one whose strength comes from the knowledge of the person who issues it. It is the one used by the “expert in the matter”, that is, by that person who, due to his career and knowledge, has sufficient authority to make a valid judgment.

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Practically, we can say that the logic of the argument from authority and the ipse dixit is the same. An argument that must be believed by the knowledge and authority of the person who makes it.

There are only two differences between the two concepts, one is that the Latin expression is used to refer to law, while the argument from authority is not exclusive to this field. And the other is the figure of the expert, the ipse dixit does not have to be issued by a scholar in the field, but simply by someone who, due to one reason or another, is presumed to be truthful. This happens, for example, with witnesses in a trial, since they are obliged to tell the truth.

The ad verecundiam fallacy

the fallacy ad verecundiam it is a misleading or fallacious argument whose origin is the statement of an expert. We can say that this type of fallacy is the consequence of an argument whose strength is ipse dixit.

If the argument used by the expert is false, we speak of an ad verecundiam fallacy. And this is a situation that can easily occur, since if an idea is issued without any proof, the most natural thing is that it is wrong.

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