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Logic & Scientific Philosophy

Why People Do What They Do -Aman

On February 26/2012 in Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman shot at and killed Trayvon Martin while on his neighbourhood watch patrol. Zimmerman claims to have felt something off about Martin and immediately called the police. Instead of staying in his car, he went and followed Martin to supposedly know his location so the police could find him. Somewhere between following Martin and getting back to his car, Zimmerman was attacked and shot at Martin to defend himself.

Trayvon Martin was near a house that George Zimmerman had called the police on before;
Martin appeared to come out of nowhere and then proceeded to attack Zimmerman;
Therefore, Zimmerman shot at Martin in an act of self defence.

First let’s deal with the form of this argument. In all honesty, the conclusion follows the premises. Logically, Zimmerman was being cautious and then was attacked, so he protected himself. However, we should still break this down using substitution instance. Let Trayvon Martin represent X; let Martin’s actions represent Y; and let George Zimmerman represent Z.

X was Y
Y affected Z
Z shot X.

Now that is very simplistic, however it’s all true. Because of Trayvon’s (X) actions (Y) Zimmerman (Z) shot Trayvon (X). Because the premises are true, the conclusion becomes true; therefore it is valid.

Now that we’ve established that the form is correct, let’s move onto whether or not this argument is factually correct. First, was Trayvon Martin near a house that had the cops called on them before? Well, no one really knows. All of the potential witnesses were not around to see the entire happenings of that night. The person who said this was George Zimmerman himself and what we need to pay attention to is that he was up for 2nd degree murder. Can we really take his word for it? Well we don’t have to necessarily. There’s a witness that was Trayvon Martin’s friend and she was talking to him while the creepy man was following him. She stated that she and Martin were talking and the he was saying there was someone watching him and following him. Apparently, Martin tried to ask what the guy (supposedly Zimmerman) was doing and the next thing she heard was Trayvon’s earpiece hitting the ground and then Trayvon saying “Get off! Get off!” However, after telling you all of that I should tell you that she did lie under oath about her whereabouts on the day of Trayvon’s funeral, so is she credible at all?

This witness and account and others lead into whether or not the second premise is true. Did Trayvon Martin attack George Zimmerman? According to the phone witness, Martin was saying “Get off! Get off!” However, other witnesses recall that “a black male, wearing a dark coloured ‘hoodie’ on top of a white or Hispanic male who was yelling for help.” The black male is Martin and the Hispanic male is Zimmerman. As well, Zimmerman was diagnosed with a closed fracture on his nose, two black eyes, lacerations to the back of his head, a minor back injury, and bruising on his upper and lower cheeks. This was diagnosed by Zimmerman’s family doctor after Zimmerman refused to go to the hospital on the night of. Now, I’m sure we can all the problem in that. Also, to add to the fact, Zimmerman stated that Martin was slamming his head against the concrete before Zimmerman shot him, however this was not consistent with the evidence they found. This disputes our second premise and leaves room for debate.

Finally, even though these premises are not air tight and have room to be false, the conclusion is true, to an extent. Zimmerman did shoot Martin, this was proved by a statement, bullet shells and the range at which Martin was shot at. However, was it an act of self defence? Well, I’ll let you decide. After everything you know about this case, and after researching it a bit, do you think it was an act of self defence? For logic’s sake right now though, whether it is true or not, this argument is still not factually correct because there are many loopholes that I mentioned above. So, in conclusion this argument is valid but not factually correct which means it is not a sound argument.

I believe this logic for the argument comes from a need to survive. George Zimmerman did not want to go to jail, his lawyer did not want him to go to jail, and so this argument was created on the basis of Zimmerman’s accounts of that night and why he had to do what he did. This logic was a plead to not send him to jail because he was just being a good, American citizen, who does have a right to bear arms and protect their community and themselves.

Socially, this case was met with criticism towards George Zimmerman for following Martin and carrying a gun. Many people protested wearing hoodies, and carrying skittle and Arizona Iced tea (Martin was carrying these and wearing a hoodie on that night). Many high school students also walked out and many people went to rallies to demand Zimmerman’s arrest. Many people were outraged as they thought the shooting had to do with race which is not culturally accepted. Politically, Barak Obama released a statement saying “When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this… If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” From these cases and this logic we can learn why people say and do the things they do and what they really mean to them and to us.





  1. Pingback: Aman 2013/2014 | Philosophy 12 - November 13, 2013

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