Logical Fallacy 3: Tu quoque (you too)

Tu quoque is Latin for "You too". So you justify your wrong action because someone else also does it. "My evidence may be invalid, but so is yours."

This is Part 3 in a series about Logical Fallacies. We are going through one fallacy at a time. There are many types of fallacious arguments. I'm going to try to explain them with examples then find ways to help you refute those arguments when they occur. Please comment or email if there's a particular fallacy you want me to tackle, or if you have success with refuting an argument using a good technique you can share.

My mother did this on the phone the other day. We were talking about religion when my mother told me I should start a cult or my own religion, because they make so much money. (WTF?)
I replied that it would be unethical to take advantage of people who are weak and can't think for themselves. She said the churches do it all the time, so why shouldn't I. I told her that sometimes you have to do the right thing just because it's right. I couldn't remember the Latin name for the fallacy, but I did note that two wrongs don't make a right, as people who use this logical fallacy try to assume. (I won't even go into how weird that whole conversation was. I mean, seriously!)

A lot of times people who are into alternative health modalities will use this argument. They'll say that even though their therapies may lack evidence, some mainstream modalities also lack evidence.

How do you refute such an argument? Well, I think it's rather straightforward.

When someone suggests that 2 wrongs make a right, such as the example given by my mother up above, simply call them on it. Two wrongs don't make a right.

If you have anything more to add, please feel free. If I think of anything else to help us deal with the Tu quoque fallacy, I'll be sure to let you know.

For this lesson, I'm using 2 resources:


  1. Atheist: "You cannot prove that God exists."

    Theist: "Oh yeah? Well, you cannot prove that God DOESN'T exist!"

    I love the Latin names. I should make a shirt that says "Tu Quoque" on it.

  2. Hey James, yeah, the Latin names are awesome, aren't they? I think the argument you have there is some other fallacy, but I don't know the exact name. I'll have to figure it out and do that one next.
    I expect to see a Tu quoque t-shirt in your gallery within a day or two. :P

  3. I hope that you can identify the name for that one because is it so common!

  4. Don't you worry, my friend. I'll find it. I am pretty sure I know what it is, but I want to get it all right. I'm aiming for a post about it tomorrow.

  5. James,
    In your example involving God, I believe you are illustrating the "ad ignoradium" or the appeal to ignorance fallacy. This is simply using a lack of evidence against something to prove it valid.

  6. Hi Pat, and thanks, you're right. :)

  7. There's a term for things like the quote "two wrongs don't make a right" -- thought-terminating cliches.

  8. I don't really understand your stance with that. But no, it isn't necessarily always a "thought-terminating cliche".

    If I'm assuming your stance correctly, you just posted the quote "thought-terminating cliche" and used it as a thought-terminating cliche.

    How Neece used "two wrongs don't make a right", was not in the realms considered to be a thought-terminating cliche.

    Context, context, context.