• Freshman Seminars

    24 | CCN: 32221

    Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular "Logic" on TV Judge Shows

    Instructor: Daniel Melia

    1 Units

    M 1:00-2:00pm, 7415 Dwinelle


    TV "Judge" shows have become extremely popular in the last 10-15 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked "Did you hit the plaintiff?" respondants often say, "If I woulda hit him, he’d be dead!" This reply avoids answering "yes" or "no" by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called "a fortiori" argument ["from the stronger"] in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on "Judge Judy" and "The People’s Court" and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or "legal reasoning." Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.

    Required Reading:

    TITLE Historians’ Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought
    AUTHOR David Hackett Fischer
    PUBLISHER Harper Perennial (1970)
    ISBN 978-0061315459