Saturday, September 16, 2006

Logical Fallacies, Part 11: Tu Quoque

The tu quoque fallacy (Latin for “you too”) is a close relative of the ad hominem attack. (See the July 15, 2006 entry on this blog.) Tu quoque appears when deflecting attention from a criticism by asserting that the same criticism applies to the critic.

Deposed Iraqi leader Sadaam Hussein has tried the tu quoque argument by insisting that he should not be on trial for war crimes since the United States is guilty of war crimes. The problem with Hussein’s argument is that anyone else’s wrong does not make his crimes any less wrong.

Here’s a business example:

The Chief Financial Officer has said that the Research and Development group is over budget on Project X, but he is not bearing down as much on Accounting for overspending.

The writer’s complaint does nothing to justify Research and Development being over budget.

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