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Encyclopedia > Two wrongs make a right

Two wrongs make a right is a logical fallacy that occurs when it is assumed that if one wrong is committed, another wrong will cancel it out. Like many fallacies, it typically appears as the hidden major premise in an enthymeme—an unstated assumption which must be true for the premises to lead to the conclusion. This is an example of an informal fallacy. It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Fallacy. ... The major premise in a categorical syllogism is the premise whose terms are the syllogisms major term and middle term. ... An enthymeme is a syllogism (a three-part deductive argument) with an unstated assumption which must be true for the premises to lead to the conclusion. ... In Philosophical logic, an informal fallacy is a pattern of reasoning which is false due to the falsity of one or more of its premises. ...


It is often used as a red herring, or an attempt to change or distract from the issue. For example: Ignoratio elenchi (also known as irrelevant conclusion) is the logical fallacy of presenting an argument that may in itself be valid, but which proves or supports a different proposition than the one it is purporting to prove or support. ...

  • Speaker A: President Williams lied in his testimony to Congress. He should not do that.
  • Speaker B: But you're ignoring the fact that President Robertson lied in his Congressional testimony!

If President Robertson lied in his Congressional testimony, that does not make it acceptable for President Williams to do so as well.


The tu quoque fallacy is a specific type of "two wrongs make a right". Accusing another person of not practicing what they preach, while appropriate in some situations, does not in itself invalidate an action or statement that is perceived as contradictory. An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin, literally argument to the man), is 1) a logical fallacy that involves replying to an argument or assertion by addressing the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself; 2) an argument pointing out an inconsistency...


See also

“Talion” redirects here. ... Tit for Tat is a highly-effective strategy in game theory for the iterated prisoners dilemma. ...

External links

  • Nizkor: two wrongs make a right

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Logical Fallacy: Two Wrongs Make a Right (574 words)
Often, the other wrong action is of the same type or committed by the accuser, in which case it is the subfallacy Tu Quoque.
Attempting to justify committing a wrong on the grounds that someone else is guilty of another wrong is clearly a Red Herring, because if this form of argument were cogent, one could justify anything―always assuming that there is another wrong to point to, which is a very safe assumption.
Two Wrongs Make a Right needs to be distinguished from retaliation or punishment, as it would not do to condemn these on logical grounds, though they may be morally objectionable.
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