« Links With Your Coffee - Sunday | Main | Bill O'Reilly's Right to Privacy »

Links With Your Coffee - Monday


In the interest of fostering rational arguments I'm going to present a common fallacy with each day's links. Today's fallacies are category errors:



I know you aren't responsible for it, but surely it can't have escaped your attention that the examples of 'composition' on the page linked to conflict with the definition offered. The definition given defines composition as the inferences that because the parts of a whole have a certain property the whole has that property (as one might say 'all the cells in your body are cells, therefore your body is a cell'). However the examples given are of the opposite sort, where a property of a whole is inferred to be a property instantiated in turn by each of its parts.

I'm not saying they aren't both fallacious, but there aren't the same inferential moves.

Oh my, I hadn't even read them, how embarrassing. Here are some better examples:

Composition The composition fallacy occurs when someone mistakenly assumes that a characteristic of some or all the individuals in a group is also a characteristic of the group itself, the group "composed" of those members. It is the converse of the division fallacy.


Each human cell is very lightweight, so a human being composed of cells is also very lightweight.


Merely because a group as a whole has a characteristic, it often doesn't follow that individuals in the group have that characteristic. If you suppose that it does follow, when it doesn't, you commit the fallacy of division. It is the converse of the composition fallacy.


Joshua's soccer team is the best in the division because it had an undefeated season and shared the division title, so Joshua, who is their goalie, must be the best goalie in the division.

I've changed the links.

re: the soren reader article- very, very difficult. and for an ayn rand person! i also have some personal experience with this issue having to do with my parents and a legal pact they made.

don't want to go into detail, would be impossible not to come off sounding like an asshole (which is hard enough anyway for me to achieve here). a quote that stood out for me that relates to my whole relationship to this blog:

Personal experiences sometimes make ethical issues vivid in ways exercises of imagination cannot match.

just food for thought. i wish this woman the best of possible outcomes. death and/or loss of mental facility is an issue for all, especially those who value the examined life, but there are levels of forced involvement, and levels of death itself- for instance, loss of memory or rational ability. it seemed to me it was hard for ms. reader to separate her own sense of outrage over her own potential loss of facility from her concern for the possible effects on her loved ones. i don't wish this emotional conflict on anyone. from what i understood of my parent's "pact" regarding this issue, i'm guessing the laws in america are somewhat different than the u.k.

blessings of good health and full use of raional facilities till the end for all my friends here.. i kind of liked tim leary's approach...


Support this site

Google Ads

Powered by Movable Type Pro

Copyright © 2002-2017 Norman Jenson


Commenting Policy

note: non-authenticated comments are moderated, you can avoid the delay by registering.

Random Quotation

Individual Archives

Monthly Archives