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fallacy of composition

Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


L ogic An erroneous kind of reasoning that argues that if each part of a whole has a certain property, then the whole has that property. For instance, “If each component of this car is of good quality, the car is of good quality.” The term is also used for arguments from the premise that each individual member of a collection has a certain attribute, to the conclusion that the collection has that attribute. The argument is invalid because it mistakenly assumes that the whole or collection is a simple aggregation of the parts or individual members. The converse is the fallacy of division, which argues that if a whole or collection has a certain property, then each of its parts or members has that property. For example, “The United States is rich, so each citizen of the US is rich.” This fallacy fails to realize that there is not such a transference relationship between a whole and its parts. Both the fallacy of composition and the fallacy of division are examples of the fallacy of ambiguity , for they often involve a confusion between the distributive use and the collective use of a word. “The fallacy of composition consists in reasoning from what is true only of the parts of some whole to what is true to the whole.” Carney and Scheer, Fundamentals of Logic ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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