You ought to tu quoque in pictures

A question that recurs in critical thinking textbooks and in discussions of informal logic is whether there can be a visual argument — that is, whether one can give an argument only with images. Here's one way to think about visual arguments: they work like enthymemes, so the visual image has a preferred propositional interpretation and there is a suppressed second premise and conclusion.  So the pictures of hands getting crushed between gears on the side of the machine making donuts at Krispy Kreme works like a first premise, and the second premise (that you don't want that to happen to your hands) and conclusion (you shouldn't put your hands in the machine) are suppressed, but nevertheless communicated.  There are other ways to interpret warning signs that are silly, such as:







There's a preferred way to interpet that image and the reasons it gives you and then there's a silly way.   But that's a contentious way of interpreting it. 

Regardless, while at the OSSA conference, John and I were enjoying a hotdog, and we noticed something.  I took a picture.  It's below.  A question to the NS readership: is this picture a tu quoque argument?  Is it fallacious?

3 thoughts on “You ought to tu quoque in pictures”

  1. I take it that that's parking enforcement vehicle?

    If so, I think that's irony, Scott.

    Now, if that were contextualized as part of a libertarian argument against government regulation of parking. . . Or were entered into evidence in a parking ticket hearing, then it might function as a tu quoque.

    But as is it just seems to be irony.

  2. Hey Colin.   Yes, it was a public safety vehicle.
    For sure, the image is ironic.  But it's often that people will introduce the conflict premise into a tu quoque with the phrase, "isn't it ironic that …."
    I guess the question here is whether there's an inference that the image impels.  The inference impelled by a picture of a human body with lightning bolts shooting at it by the electical pole is clear (I think), but it's not clear what inference is supported here.  But you're right — it could be deployed in a tu quoque.

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