- Fallacy of composition
The fallacy of composition 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). For example: "This fragment of metal cannot be broken with a hammer, therefore the machine of which it is a part cannot be broken with a hammer." This is clearly fallacious, because many machines can be broken into their constituent parts without any of those parts being breakable.
This fallacy is often confused with the fallacy of hasty generalization, in which an unwarranted inference is made from a statement about a sample to a statement about the population from which it is drawn.
The fallacy of composition is the converse of the fallacy of division.
- Human cells are invisible to the naked eye.
- Humans are made up of human cells.
- Therefore, humans are invisible to the naked eye.
In Keynesian macroeconomics, the "paradox of thrift" theory illustrates this fallacy: increasing saving (or "thrift") is obviously good for an individual, since it provides for retirement or a "rainy day," but if everyone saves more, Keynesian economists argue that it may cause a recession by reducing consumer demand. Other economic schools, such as the Austrian School, disagree.
Modo hoc fallacy
The modo hoc (or "just this") fallacy is the informal error of assessing meaning to an existent based on the constituent properties of its material makeup while omitting the matter's arrangement. For instance, metaphysical naturalism states that while matter and motion are all that comprise man, it cannot be assumed that the characteristics inherent in the elements and physical reactions that make up man ultimately and solely define man's meaning; for, a cow which is alive and well and a cow which has been chopped up into meat are the same matter but it is obvious that the arrangement of that matter clarifies those different situational meanings.
Some properties are such that, if every part of a whole has the property, then the whole will, too. In such instances, the fallacy of composition does not apply. For example, if all parts of a chair are green, then it is usually acceptable to infer that the chair is green.[A] Similarly, if all parts of a table are wooden, it is acceptable to infer that the table is wooden. A property of all parts that can be ascribed to the whole is called an "expansive" property, according to Nelson Goodman. For a property to be expansive, it must be absolute (as opposed to relative) and structure-independent (as opposed to structure dependent), according to Frans H. van Eemeren.
The meanings of absolutes do not imply a comparison, whereas the meanings of relatives do. E.g., being green or wooden are absolutes, whereas fast or heavy or cheap are relatives. We know whether something is green or wooden without reference to other things, whereas we do not know whether something is fast or heavy or cheap without implicitly comparing it to other things. Relative properties are never expansive. E.g., it does not follow that if all parts of a chair are cheap, then the chair is cheap.
Absolute properties shared by all constituent parts of a whole are expansive only if they are independent of the nature of the whole's structure or arrangement. That is, if it does not matter whether the whole is a summation or integration, an unordered collection or a cohesive whole, then the property is said to be independent. Consider the example, X is green. It does not matter whether X is a chair (an integration or coherent whole) or just a pile of twigs (a summation or unordered collection). Green is therefore an independent property. Now consider the example, X is rectangular. Rearrange a rectangular object—e.g., tear up the pages of a book—and it might not stay rectangular. Rectangularness is a structure dependent property and is therefore non-expansive.
- ^ Even such a seemingly clear-cut case may have exceptions, however, caused by structural color effects such as those seen in many bird feathers and butterfly wings.
- ^ a b "Composition". The Fallacy Files. http://www.fallacyfiles.org/composit.html.
- ^ Anderson, William (22 January 2009). "Not So Fast! The Fallacy of Composition". Foundation for Economic Education. http://fee.org/articles/not-so-fast/the-fallacy-of-composition/. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
- ^ Carrier, Richard (2005). Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism. Prometheus Books. p. 130. ISBN 1-4208-0293-3.
- ^ Carrier 130.
- ^ a b See Eemeren's Fallacy of Composition and Division
Informal fallaciesAbsence paradox · Begging the question · Blind men and an elephant · Cherry picking · Complex question · False analogy · Fallacy of distribution (Composition · Division) · Furtive fallacy · Hasty generalization · I'm entitled to my opinion · Loaded question · McNamara fallacy · Name calling · Nirvana fallacy · Rationalization (making excuses) · Red herring fallacy · Special pleading · Slothful induction Correlative-based fallacies Deductive fallacies Inductive fallacies Vagueness and ambiguity Equivocation Questionable causeList of fallacies · Other types of fallacy
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
fallacy of composition — The (mistaken) assumption that, if an action is in the collective interest of a group , and if members of that group are rational , then the group must be (in the same sense) collectively rational and will therefore act in its interest, just as… … Dictionary of sociology
fallacy of composition — the fallacy of arguing from premises in which a term is used distributively to a conclusion in which it is used collectively or of assuming that what is true of each member of a class or part of a whole will be true of all together (as in if my… … Useful english dictionary
Fallacy — In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor (appeal to emotion), or… … Wikipedia
Fallacy of division — A fallacy of division occurs when one reasons logically that something true of a thing must also be true of all or some of its parts. An example: A Boeing 747 can fly unaided across the ocean. A Boeing 747 has jet engines. Therefore, one of its… … Wikipedia
Fallacy of distribution — A fallacy of distribution is a logical fallacy occurring when an argument assumes there is no difference between a term in the distributive (referring to every member of a class) and collective (referring to the class itself as a whole)… … Wikipedia
composition/division, fallacies of — The fallacy of composition is one of arguing that because something is true of members of a group or collection, it is true of the group as a whole. For example, in Utilitarianism, J. S. Mill appears to argue that since each person desires just… … Philosophy dictionary
fallacy, formal and informal — In philosophy, reasoning that fails to establish its conclusion because of deficiencies in form or wording. Formal fallacies are types of deductive argument that instantiate an invalid inference pattern (see deduction; validity); an example is… … Universalium
Composition — may refer to: Composition (logical fallacy), in which one assumes that a whole has a property solely because its various parts have that property Compounding is also known as composition in linguistic literature in computer science Object… … Wikipedia
fallacy — /fal euh see/, n., pl. fallacies. 1. a deceptive, misleading, or false notion, belief, etc.: That the world is flat was at one time a popular fallacy. 2. a misleading or unsound argument. 3. deceptive, misleading, or false nature; erroneousness.… … Universalium
Fallacy of quoting out of context — The practice of quoting out of context, sometimes referred to as contextomy or quote mining , is a logical fallacy and a type of false attribution in which a passage is removed from its surrounding matter in such a way as to distort its intended… … Wikipedia