Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everyday Tu quoque

Note: Not meant to replace the philosophy teacher’s lecture note. Just a perspective. Have you encountered or witnessed a conversation or an argument in which one person started to make his position on a certain issue, only to be rebutted just because it either contradicted his previous stand or his loved ones are doing the contrary? If you are in that position, normally you may have tongue tied. You may have encountered concerned Instead of being enlightened, you were punched…figuratively. It is called in Latin words “Tu quoque” or “you too” in English. This is the type of fallacy or incorrect argumentation using the appeal to hypocrisy (hence the words “you too”). Fallacy, like we said, is an incorrect argumentation resulting in a lack of soundness. In Tagalog slang, this is synonymous with the words, “pambabara”. Tu quoque is one of those fallacies. In this kind of fallacy, a person who argued will be given a rebuttal that it is not valid plainly because that person is not credible enough to defend his argument due to the arguer’s inconsistency. In logic, this is a fallacy. Why? One of the essences of a good argument is that it should be solid enough. Now, if you wanted to rebut a good argument, then it should be rebutted with a solid logically sound statement. In the parliamentary procedures, tu quoque is a no-no, unless you’re intentionally doing it as a form of stalling or a way to lose the opponent’s composure hence having more time to come up with a better statement. Ideally, you rebut an argument using logically sound statement, not appealing to that person’s so called hypocrisy. This synonymous with what we call “clean hands”. Although most of us are not familiar with the do’s and don’ts of parliamentary procedures, we do this type of fallacy to dismiss a person’s solid statement, especially if that packs a punch. We’ll dismiss a person’s true statement about us plainly because his life is not credible enough. To certain minimal extent, this type of fallacy can be used to someone IF that someone is starting to be TRULY senseless. However, if the statement is sound and reasonable enough, then why use a loser’s tactic like tu quoque? Putting this in everyday life, we’ll not take a logically sound statement just because the source is not credible is also “dirty”. This is common in the bureaucracy. A government employee can never argue to a person under question because Mr. Government Employee’s list of mistakes will be made known (I call it the “black book” attitude). When that happens, tu quoque and mudslinging started to become relatives, if not siblings. Another tu quoque approach is questioning a person plainly because he is “insane”, “eccentric”, “out of this world”, etc. This time around, tu quoque started to have another sibling in the proverbial person of derogatory remarks. Let us prove ourselves professionals by not doing that loser’s tactic. Face the music, don’t hide under that loser’s tactic. If proven not true by using facts, not only will your argument be sound, but you won your case…with class and decency. Friends, it may not be right to put the parliamentarian style in an everyday conversation, but if we are a person of good character, we’ll listen to the argument, regardless of the source. If our attitude is not to follow a right statement because it came from seemingly wronged person, then I regret to tell you that you lose another learning opportunity. We human beings are imperfect. This is the very reason why it’s not right to make a person discredited in order to avoid listening to him or his so called foolishness. A person with good character will deal with the statement, regardless of the source. He’ll only disregard it if there’s no truth in it, not because the source is not credible due to being a “nut case” or “dirty”. Still doing tu quoque? Have it your way. We’ll respect that. However, let us remind ourselves we’ll not get closer to the truth if we do such thing.

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