We humans live in a world were illogical fallacies run rampant. In 12 Angry Men the author illustrates everyday illogical fallacies people have in the setting of a court jury. Jurors: 3, 4, 7 and 10 have their own fallacies that are unique to them in the play; but can be found in common people in everyday people. In 12 Angry Men the illogical fallacy for Juror Number 3 is a general fallacy. This fallacy is the result of an emotional prejudice by juror 3 has as he compares the defendant with his own child. Juror 3 says in the play, You’re right.
It’s the kids. The way they are—you know? They don’t listen. I’ve got a kid. When he was eight years old, he ran away from a fight. I saw him. I was so ashamed, I told him right out, “I’m gonna make a man out of you or I’m gonna bust you up into little pieces trying. ” When he was fifteen he hit me in the face. He’s big, you know. I haven’t seen him in three years. Rotten kid! You work your heart out…. All right, let’s get on with it. (Reginald Rose 8) His emotional prejudice gets in the way of his critically thinking through the evidence because he has emotional conflict with his own son.
He is grouping all teens together because of his altercation with his son, and Juror 3 is just punishing the young man on trial because he cannot come to turns with his own failings as a parent with his child. Towards the end of the play Juror 3 is all alone on the vote count; he “looks around at all of them for a long time. They sit silently, waiting for him to speak, and all of them despise him for his stubbornness. Then, suddenly, his face contorts as if he is about to cry, and he slams his fist down on the table” … (thundering) All right” (30).
Juror Number 4 and 10 each has prejudices about slum dwellers. This prejudice gives way to genetic fallacies in each juror’s thinking that at the beginning of the deliberations cause them to vote guilty in the initial preliminary vote. Juror 4, for example, says, We’re missing the point here. This boy—let’s say he’s a product of a filthy neighborhood and a broken home. We can’t help that. We’re not here to go into the reasons why slums are breeding grounds for criminals. They are. I know it. So do you. The children who come out of slum backgrounds are potential menaces to society. 23)
The play says that he is a man of wealth and position. We can also determine this by his attitude about people from the ghetto from his previously mentioned statement. Juror 10 is prejudice for the fact that he came from the slums,I don’t mind telling you, mister. We don’t owe him a thing. He got a fair trial, didn’t he? You know what that trial cost? He’s lucky he got it. Look, we’re all grownups here. You’re not going to tell us that we’re supposed to believe him, knowing what he is. I’ve lived among ’em all my life. You can’t believe a word they say. You know that. 5)
This line of thinking also can be seen when Juror 4 tells them, “Next, the boy claims that on the way home the knife must have fallen through a hole in his coat pocket, that he never saw it again. Now there’s a story, gentlemen. You know what actually happened. The boy took the knife home and a few hours later stabbed his father with it and even remembered to wipe off the fingerprints” (9). Juror Number Seven has no need to go over the facts again; he votes with whatever the majority of the vote is deciding. Juror 7 is in a hurry to get to the play he has tickets for as noted on page 3, “Right. This better be fast.
I’ve got tickets to The Seven Year Itch tonight. I must be the only guy in the whole world who hasn’t seen it yet. (He laughs and sits down. ) Okay, your honor, start the show” (3). His prejudice that gets in the way of him critically thinking through the case is selfishness, which leads to a slippery slope illogical fallacy in the play. He says to the foreman,I don’t know, most of it’s been said already. We can talk all day about this thing, but I think we’re wasting our time. Look at the kid’s record. At fifteen he was in reform school. He stole a car. He’s been arrested for mugging. He was picked up for knife-fighting.
I think they said he stabbed somebody in the arm. This is a very fine boy. (7) This statement highlights the laziness of juror 7 to mean for not necessarily do any of those things correlate with killing his father. The prejudices of all jurors are the basis of the story. These prejudices lead to many illogical fallacies that are shown and resolved throughout the play for each juror. They are attempts by the author to show how every day are riddled with fallacies of logic and how people’s personal conflicts cloud their critical thinking to reason. This play suggests that we all need to examine ourselves before we rush to any type of judgment.
Courtney from Study Moose
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