The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fallacy: Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

Also Known as: "You Too Fallacy"

Description of Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

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.

Examples of Ad Hominem Tu Quoque

  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."

  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."

  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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