Definition Edit

The fallacy of tu quoque, or “look who’s talking,” is committed when an argument is rejected because the arguer is guilty of practical inconsistency (i.e, because the arguer is a hypocrite: she does not practice what she preaches).

A is a hypocrite.
Therefore, A's argument should be rejected.

Example Edit

This ad for Prop. 8, "Irony - The messages of hate from marriage opponents," accuses opponents of Prop. 8 of committing the fallacy of look who's talking.


The ad that prompted the messages that this ad refers to was "Marriage- It's simple."

Marriage its simple

The producers of "Irony" accuse opponents of Prop. 8 of "tu quoque." The producers want us to see that while opponents of Proposition 8 call the supporters discriminatory and hateful, they themselves -- the opponents -- say hateful and vicious things about the little girl in "Marriage -- It's Simple." For example, one of Prop. 8's opponents -- is said to have? -- expressed a desire to strangle the little girl. The opponents of Prop. 8 are accused of being guilty of practical inconsistency: they denounce the supposed hate and discrimination of Proposition 8 supporters, yet they themselves hurl hateful comments at the little girl and the producers of "Marriage." The argument here runs: "The opponents of Prop. 8 are hypocrites. Therefore, their arguments should be rejected."

Other examplesEdit

This ad against Prop. 8 "Gay_Marriage....NO!," also commits the fallacy of look who's talking.

Gay Marriage....NO!

The ad features a man in a strip club praising the sanctity of his marriage. The man in the video professes support for Proposition 8 and the "sanctity of marriage." The definition of marriage, he says, is a bond between a man and a woman only. Yet he enthusiastically engages in the spectacle of lesbian oral sex.

This video by David Shuster points out that Wall Street Journal columnist Karl Rove commits the fallacy of Look Who's Talking.

Karl Rove

Karl Rove argues that President Barack Obama is "playing politics" by "misusing the power of his office" (Shuster); yet, Karl Rove also played politics when he was with the Bush administration Karl Rove commits the fallacy of tu quoque because he accuses President Barack Obama of "misusing the power of his office" (Shuster, David; MSNBC's 1600) and speaks out against Obama's administration for coordinating political messages. However, Rove himself did exactly this when he was with the Bush administration.

This video by Rachel Maddow suggests that former Senator John Ensign committed the fallacy of tu qouque

Senator Ensign

While in the Senate, Ensign preached the importance of marriage; yet he himself broke his marriage vows by cheating on his wife. Ensign resigned from the Senate after it was revealed that he had had an affair with a married woman for about a year. In this video, Ensign is portrayed as a hypocrite because even while he was fighting to pass a federal amendment to ban the marriage of same sex couples "to protect the institution of marriage," he was having an affair. Ensign also stated that Bill Clinton should have resigned immediately following his announcement concerning his affair with Monica Lewinsky, but Ensign's affair lasted for over whole year, and he didn't resign. Ensign also called Republican Larry Craig a disgrace when he had an "interlude" in the men's airport bathroom. The video seems to be asking, How much of a disgrace is Ensign if he had been sneaking around for a year behind his wife's back? How can a man who has broken his vows by cheating on his wife deny others a chance at marriage just because they're gay? How can he preach to others about their wrongs when he commits those same wrongs? From this, we can conclude that Ensign is a hypocrite.

When taken in the context of Chairman Hensarling's speech, this speech by Nancy Pelosi commits the fallacy of tu quoque.

Nancy pelosi
Chairman hensarling

Instead of engaging any particular argument Republican lawmakers have proposed, Nancy Pelosi argues that the Republicans are more to be blamed for the economic crisis than the Democrats are. Her argument is, essentially: The Chairman is a hypocrite. Therefore, the Chairman's argument should be rejected.

Nancy Pelosi starts her speech off with a description of the "reckless economic policies" and the "fiscal irresponsibility" of the "failed Bush administration." She praises the Democratic party for believing in a free market and having the power to do better and smarter things for America, including creating jobs. However, Chairman Hensarling points out that ever since the Democrats have taken control of Congress in 2007, their economic policies have driven oil prices up, job growth down, and real estate prices down, among other things. Nancy Pelosi, on behalf of her party, is guilty of practical inconsistency because she is not practicing what she preaches.