The tu quoque argument is the argument from hypocrisy or inconsistency: S says that p, or that we should do a, but then turns around and says not-p or fails to do a. It’s usually not clear what the consequences of the tu quoque are – either evidence of insincerity, evidence that the proposal is too difficult to follow, or that the person can’t keep his story straight. We’ve at the NS had a variety of discussions about tu quoque, ranging from conditions for its acceptability to the breadth of its form. Our best discussion was started by Colin with his observation that sometimes, tu quque arguments needn’t be in the form of actual hypocrisy, but rather hypothetical hypocrisy. Hence, subjunctive tu quoque. (See Colin’s post HERE) I’ve found a close cousin to the not-actual-but-hypothetically-relevant form for tu quoque. It’s the predictive tu quoque.
Witness Jonah Goldberg’s recent posting at NRO. He says: young voters have supported Obama and his policies overwhelmingly. But now that the Affordable Care Act is starting to be implemented, they will be required to buy health insurance — at rates greater than they would have to on other systems. That’s because they are keeping the larger system afloat, as they are supporting the old, sick, and dying. He predicts that they will then bolt on the issue. First, he presents the dilemma.
You’d insist that millennials are not only informed, but eager to make sacrifices for the greater good. Well, here’s your chance to prove it: Fork over whatever it costs to buy the best health insurance you can under Obamacare.
Then he sarcastically presents the decision:
[S]ince the fine for not signing up is so much lower than premiums, lots of people will just wait until they’re sick before buying insurance.
Now, that might be the smart play — for cynics.
But you’re not cynical. You didn’t vote for Obama and cheer the passage of Obamacare because it was the cool thing to do. You did your homework. You want to share the sacrifice. You want to secure the president’s legacy.
And now’s your chance to prove it.
I think it would be best for these lines to be read out loud. When he says “But you’re not cynical,” it has to be delivered with that special tone of voice one has when one’s caught another in a reductio. He’s not being hortatory – as though he’s saying: I predict that you will not be cynics. No, he’s saying: I expect you to be cynics, as you’ve been cynics all along… because your votes were bought by Obama’s policies regarding student loans and extended coverage under parental health care. Now that you have to bear the burden, you’ll resent it.