Pot calling the kettle black

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The pot calling the kettle black is an informal fallacy also called Tu quoque.[1] Another name is appeal to hypocrisy.

It happens when a person is guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another.[2]

"Oho!" said the pot to the kettle;
"You are dirty and ugly and black!
Sure no one would think you were metal,
Except when you're given a crack".

"Not so! not so!" kettle said to the pot;
"'Tis your own dirty image you see;
For I am so clean – without blemish or blot –
That your blackness is mirrored in me".[3]

A fable, perhaps by Aesop, has a mother crab and its young, where the mother tells the child to walk straight, and is asked in return to demonstrate how that is done.[4]

A present-day example:

Peter: "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?" [5]

It is a fallacy because a person's actions or character do not affect the logic of the argument.

References[change | change source]

  1. Tu quoque is Latin for "you also". "tu quoque, n." Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  2. Bluedorn, Nathaniel (2002). The Fallacy Detective. p. 54. ISBN 0-9745315-0-2.
  3. "St Nicholas Magazine 3.4" (PDF). February 1876. p. 224.
  4. Folklore and Fable vol.XVII, New York 1909, p.30 [1]
  5. "Fallacy: ad hominem tu quoque". Nizkor project. Retrieved 24 November 2015.