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Fallacy OF Composition

November 4th, 2009

Taxonomy – Where am I?

Fallacy Of Composition

classification : informal – fallacies of ambiguity

arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part).

Foundations

the fallacy of inferring from the fact that every part of a whole has a given property that the whole also has that property.

Caveat: It is important to note that drawing an inference about the characteristics of a class based on the characteristics of its individual members is not always fallacious. In some cases, sufficient justification can be provided to warrant the conclusion.

Examples

A counterfeiter who prints a million dollars will certainly benefit himself (if he doesn’t get caught) but if we all become counterfeiters and each print a million dollars, a quite different effect is rather obvious.

The bicycle is made entirely of low mass components, and is therefore very lightweight.

A car creates less pollution than a bus. Therefore, cars are less of a pollution problem than buses.

Other Names

Fallacy of Mediocrity
Sometimes confused with the fallacy of hasty generalization.

Note: The fallacy of composition is the converse of the fallacy of division.

Note: On Sophistical Refutations – Translated by W. A. Pickard-Cambridge

Categories: Logic
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