Friday, November 6, 2015

Today's Logical Fallacy is... Tu Quoque!

[pronounced “too-KWO-kwee”] (Two Wrongs Make a Right, Look Who’s Talking, The Appeal to Hypocrisy, a variety of the Ad Hominem, related to Red Herring) 

Literally translating as “you too,” this fallacy attempts to justify a wrong action because someone else also does it. It’s commonly used as a red herring because it distracts from the real argument, and the one employing it manages to avoid having to defend their argument. Many who use this argument do so to avoid moral blame for their actions (or inactions), but just because he or she is not alone in his or her morally corrupt position does not mean that his or her position is justified. It is also common in revenge scenarios: “Well, my girlfriend cheated on me, so I’m going to cheat on her.”


If someone uses a tu quoque against you, admit that your personal problems, lack of self-control, addictions, etc., has nothing to do with whether or not your position is true or accurate. Just because you are not perfect does not mean that the point isn’t valid, and just because humans are flawed is no reason to justify immoral behavior.

Examples:

"Sure, we may have tortured prisoners of war, but we didn't cut off heads off like they do!"

“Gee, Mom and Dad, how can you tell me not to do drugs when you both smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol?”

“The United States has no business criticizing the human rights policies of the Third World nations, not as long as discrimination and segregation continue to exist in the United States.”

"My evidence may be invalid, but so is yours."

Bob: "Smoking and alcoholism are well-known risk factors for cancer."
Alice: "But you yourself smoke and drink a lot! You're wrong!"

Jill: "I think the gun control bill shouldn't be supported because it won't be effective and will waste money."
Bill: "Well, just last month you supported the bill. So I guess you're wrong now."

Peter: "Based on the arguments I have presented, it is evident that it is morally wrong to use animals for food or clothing."
Bill: "But you are wearing a leather jacket and you have a roast beef sandwich in your hand! How can you say that using animals for food and clothing is wrong!"

Wilma: You cheated on your income tax. Don't you realize that's wrong?
Walter: Hey, wait a minute. You cheated on your income tax last year. Or have you forgotten about that?

"Recently, we highlighted a British journalist’s story about the underside of Dubai’s startling ascent. Some in Dubai called foul, including one writer who wants to remind Britons that their own country has a dark side. After all, what to think of a country in which one fifth of the population lives in poverty?" ("Dubai’s Rebuttal," The New York Times, April 15, 2009)

Mom: “Cathy says you took her doll.”
Jimmy: “But she took my car!”

African countries enslaved their own people, so America was justified in keeping slaves, too.

Q: Now, the United States government says that you are still funding military training camps here in Afghanistan for militant, Islamic fighters and that you're a sponsor of international terrorism.… Are these accusations true? …

Osama Bin Laden: …At the time that they condemn any Muslim who calls for his right, they receive the highest top official of the Irish Republican Army at the White House as a political leader, while woe, all woe is the Muslims if they cry out for their rights. Wherever we look, we find the US as the leader of terrorism and crime in the world. The US does not consider it a terrorist act to throw atomic bombs at nations thousands of miles away, when it would not be possible for those bombs to hit military troops only. These bombs were rather thrown at entire nations, including women, children and elderly people and up to this day the traces of those bombs remain in Japan. The US does not consider it terrorism when hundreds of thousands of our sons and brothers in Iraq died for lack of food or medicine. So, there is no base for what the US says and this saying does not affect us.…

Politician 1: Is it true that you were at a brothel last night?
Politician 2: You should know better than I do, I was with you last night!

Helga: You should not be eating that... it has been scientifically proven that eating fat burgers are no good for your health.
Hugh: You eat fat burgers all the time, so that can’t be true.

“Jimmy Swaggart argued strongly against sexual immorality, yet he has had several affairs with prostitutes; therefore, sexual immorality is acceptable.”