Fallacies in 12 Angry Men – Term Paper

Logical fallacies in 12 angry men

12 Angry Men is a trial film that narrates the story of twelve jurors as they deliberate on a case on the basis of reasonable doubt. The men must decide whether or not the defendant, a young boy, is guilty of murdering his father, and are expected to make a unanimous decision. Initially, all the jurors except one think the defendant is guilty. However, after reviewing the evidence and conducting some critical and logical reasoning, their opinion changes in a way that makes them conclude the boy is not guilty. This verdict is probably because of the various fallacies that the jurors committed. This essay analyses the various inductions, deductions and fallacies in 12 Angry Men and how the characters use them to their advantage.

The jurors make a number of deductions in the film. The first one is when some of them deduce that the defendant must have committed the murder since he is from the slums. Another deduction is seen when one of the jurors is of the opinion that the boy killed his father as revenge for being beaten up. The third example of deductive reasoning is when eleven jurors assume the boy is guilty due to the common perception that all suspects accused of committing murder have actually done it. Also, some jurors assumed that whatever the witnesses said was the truth just because they claim to have seen it happen. The fifth deduction is observed in that the jurors think the knife used in the murder was so unique to the extent that there was no other similar to it.

Fallacies in movies

A notable fallacy in 12 Angry Men is the appeal to the majority fallacy. It occurs when everyone thinks that a certain claim is true just because a majority of the people say that particular claim is true. This fallacy is seen in the film when the jurors cast their votes for the first time. While eleven of them voted for a not-guilty verdict, one voted guilty. He eventually changes his mind and votes not guilty. He explains his decision by saying that he was influenced by the fact that all his fellow jurors thought that the defendant was not guilty. The fallacy is evident in that just because most of the jurors thought of the same verdict does not mean that it is the right decision.

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Another deduction evident in the film is the hasty generalization fallacy. A claim is made about a certain group of people just because its population size is considered to be too small. In 12 Angry Men, one juror was of the opinion that the defendant must have committed the murder since he hailed from an informal settlement. There is a perception that everyone living in slums is a criminal, hence the boy murdered his father since he lived there. The fallacy is evident in that just because the majority of a population possess a certain trait does not mean every one of them has the characteristic as well.

12 angry men logical fallacies examples

The Post Hoc fallacy is the assumption that a certain occurrence is usually as a result of another one.  In the film, it is revealed that the defendant used to be beaten by his father. Some jurors were of the opinion that this could have influenced the boy to murder his father.  The beatings led to accumulated resentment that eventually culminated in the killing. This is a fallacy given that it does not actually prove the boy committed the act, or that there is a link between the two events are related.

Other fallacies evident throughout the film are about the credibility of those who witnessed the crime. The so-called witnesses include an elderly man who claimed he heard the defendant yell ‘I will kill you’. There is a woman who claimed that she observed the crime act through the windows of a moving train, bearing in mind that she was not wearing her glasses. While some of the jurors believed the testimonies of those witnesses, they later saw the fallacy upon taking a closer examination.

The film 12 Angry Men highlights how powerful critical reasoning is, and the way it can assist people understand and solve problems in a more logical manner. Initially, the jurors were not in the same page about the verdict. However, they soon realized that they were committing fallacies and then changed their minds. It was a lengthy and difficult process and it took time for the jurors to figure out the correct verdict.