Fallacy of composition

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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 fractured with a hammer, therefore the machine of which it is a part cannot be fractured with a hammer." This is clearly fallacious, because many machines can be broken apart, without any of those parts being fracturable.

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. The fallacy of composition is also known as the "unecological fallacy."

Examples[edit]

If someone stands up out of his seat at a baseball game, he can see better. Therefore, if everyone stands up they can all see better.

If a runner runs faster, she can win the race. Therefore if all the runners run faster, they can all win the race.

In voting theory, the Condorcet paradox demonstrates a fallacy of composition: Even if all voters have rational preferences, the collective choice induced by majority rule is not transitive and hence not rational. The fallacy of composition occurs if from the rationality of the individuals one infers that society can be equally rational. The principle generalizes beyond the aggregation via majority rule to any reasonable aggregation rule, demonstrating that the aggregation of individual preferences into a social welfare function is fraught with severe difficulties (see Arrow's impossibility theorem and social choice theory).[citation needed]

Modo hoc fallacy[edit]

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.[1] 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.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Carrier, Richard (2005). Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism. Prometheus Books. p. 130. ISBN 1-4208-0293-3.