Twelve Angry Men

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A fundamental aspect of the American justice system is the right of every person accused of a crime, to a trial by jury. The defendant, presumed ‘innocent until proven guilty’, has the right to be judged by a group of his or her peers based on the evidence presented, the assumption being that the defendant will be judged in a fair and impartial manner. However, human beings are fallible and can be subject to faulty reasoning, alongside irrational and biased thinking. The play Twelve Angry Men, by Reginald Rose is set in a mid twentieth century American jury room. Twelve strangers, all male, are brought together to deliberate the facts of a seemingly straightforward case, a young man accused of murdering his father; their decision, which must…show more content…
It would appear that the jurors, with the exception of one or two were subject to flawed thinking. Conformity is the tendency for people to comply with a group’s conventions, rules or opinions despite what they really feel. The jurors, with the exception of juror eight may, perhaps, be accused of falling victim to a groupthink mentality and subsequently to the bandwagon fallacy, which according to Chaffee “relies on the uncritical acceptance of others’ opinions, in this case because ‘everyone believes it’.” (2009, p.477) this is evident when the other jurors react simultaneously and aggressively to juror eight’s dissenting vote, with one stating “Boy, oh boy, there’s always one” (Rose, p.11) many present immediately attempt to persuade juror eight that he is deluded. Juror eight refuses to modify his view and although he admits that he doesn’t necessarily believe the boy is innocent, he is also “not sure” of his guilt, the other jurors are collectively dismissive of this view and continue in their efforts to persuade him otherwise. Eventually, they agree to move around the table, with each juror explaining why they believe the boy to be guilty. The result of this exercise is not enough to persuade juror eight to change his mind, he is still not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the boy is guilty and through subtle tactics and persuasion he eventually achieves…show more content…
Juror eight deliberately uses an appeal to pity in an effort to justify to the other jurors why he wants to consider an alternative view. “Look, this boy’s been kicked around all his life…living in a slum, his mother dead since he was nine…I just think we owe him a few words, that’s all” (Rose, p.13) Although this is undeniably an appeal to pity, it is not automatically fallacious as juror eight is not attempting to persuade the other jurors of the defendants innocence but is again reiterating his appeal for them to give due consideration to the case as the boys life is at stake. Argument, reasoning, and discussion would be considered by many as a prudent model in resolving disagreements in a non violent way; however, this is not always the case. Several appeals to fear arise during the play and most, but not all are fallacious; Chaffee asserts that it is the people who appeal to fear to support their conclusions and are interested only in prevailing who are not justified. (2009, p.479.) When juror nine suggests that the elderly witness may be lonely and lying to seek attention, he is ridiculed and demeaned by juror three. Juror six comes to his defence saying “A guy who talks like that to an old man oughta really get stepped on, y’know…You oughta have more respect, mister. If you say stuff like that to him again, - I’m

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