Tu Quoque

Please take a minute to look at this common logical fallacy.

thelargerwhole

The “look who’se talking” fallacy, or “tu quoque”, is an insidious problem.  Simply put, the fallacy involves arguing that, since Party A isn’t a perfect example of Party A’s argument, the argument is invalid.  It’s a fallacy that children commonly use.  You may have heard it in the form of

A: “You smell”

B: “You smell worse!”

The implication is that it doesn’t matter how much A smells, since A apparently smells worse than B.  So the implied argument is

P1: B smells

P2: A smells worse

C: B doesn’t smell (or) it doesn’t matter that B smells. 

It doesn’t sound like the kind of thing that adults need to worry about, but the reality is a little more insidious.  As an example, you may have noticed political parties or politicians arguing over whose fault something is. As an example, consider the way large businesses often defend their environmental performance…

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