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Loki’s Wager

October 23rd, 2009

Taxonomy – Where am I?

Loki’s Wager

classification : informal – fallacies Of ambiguity

It is the unreasonable insistence that a concept cannot be defined, and therefore cannot be discussed.

Foundations

The fallacy’s focus on over specification makes it in some ways the opposite of hasty generalization and could be considered an extreme form of equivocation. Used, intentionally or not, as a stalling or diversionary tactic which ensures that the real issue need never be debated because there can be no consensus on the terms of debate.

Examples

Loki is a trickster god in Norse mythology, who, legend has it, once made a bet with some dwarves. It was agreed that the prize, should Loki lose the wager, would be his head. Loki lost the bet, and in due time the dwarfs came to collect the head which had become rightfully theirs. Loki had no problem with giving up his head, but he insisted they had absolutely no right to take any part of his neck. Everyone concerned discussed the matter and concluded that Loki was correct. Certain parts were obviously head, and certain parts were obviously neck, but neither side could agree exactly where the one ended and the other began. As a result, Loki keeps his head indefinitely. ( The same principle as the “pound of flesh but not a drop of blood” in The Merchant of Venice. )

Other Names

Equivocation
False attribution
Quoting out of context
No true Scotsman
Reification

Categories: Logic
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