Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

Also Known as: “You Too Fallacy”

Description:

This fallacy is committed when it is concluded that a person’s claim is false because 1) it is inconsistent with something else a person has said or 2) what a person says is inconsistent with her actions. This type of “argument” has the following form:

1. Person A makes claim X.
2. Person B asserts that A’s actions or past claims are inconsistent with the truth of claim X.
3. Therefore X is false.

 The fact that a person makes inconsistent claims does not make any particular claim he makes false (although of any pair of inconsistent claims only one can be true—but both can be false). Also, the fact that a person’s claims are not consistent with his actions might indicate that the person is a hypocrite but this does not prove his claims are false.

Example #1:

Bill: “Smoking is very unhealthy and leads to all sorts of problems. So take my advice and never start.”
Jill: “Well, I certainly don’t want to get cancer.”
Bill: “I’m going to get a smoke. Want to join me Dave?”
Jill: “Well, I guess smoking can’t be that bad. After all, Bill smokes.”

 

Example #2:

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.”

 

Example #3:

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!

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Published in: on March 12, 2008 at 5:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. […] is a standard “her actions do not match her words.” While this can sometimes slide into an ad homimen fallacy, it can also be a reasonable attack. After all, if a person claims to be one thing (say a good […]


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