Fallacies of Ambiguity

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1 Fallacies of Ambiguity I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky As he later admitted, President Clinton had had "sexual relations" with Miss Lewinsky in the broad sense of a sexual relationship, yet he was denying it only in the narrow sense of sexual intercourse.

2 Copi on Ambiguity A1: Equivocation Ambiguity in words. A2: Amphiboly Ambiguity in grammar or sentence construction. A3: Accent Ambiguity in emphasis. A4: Composition A5: Division Ambiguity in Distribution.

3 Equivocation (A1) AKA: Doublespeak In Comedy: Double entendre Committed when (in the course of an argument) a word changes meaning. Form X (meaning1) Therefore X (meaning2) Thank you for your manuscript: I shall lose no time in reading it!

4 Counterexample Nothing is better then Steak, But Spam is better then nothing, So Spam is better then Steak. What do you think is wrong with this Argument?

5 Counterexample Nothing is better then Steak, But Spam is better then nothing, So Spam is better then Steak. This example would be a valid argument, except that the word nothing has different meanings in each use. This is why we can get a false conclusion from true premises (violating validity).

6 Persuasiveness Changes in word meaning can be subtle and hard to detect. We are often listening for true statements, but changing the word meaning arguments can have all true premises, but still not justify the conclusion.

7 examples "You know, if I were a single man, I might ask that mummy out. That's a good-looking mummy" Bill Clinton, looking at "Juanita," a newly discovered Incan mummy on display at the National Geographic museum

8 I have no difficulty with the recognition of civil unions for non-traditional relationships but I believe in law we should protect the traditional definition of marriage. PM Stephen Harper

9

10 Amphiboly (A2) Amphiboly : Greek for indeterminate Form: Grammatical ambiguity. Eg: The panda eats shoots and leaves.

11 Traditional Counterexample Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth. (Macbeth; Act 4, Scene 1) MacBeth concludes: I can t be harmed. Macbeth ignores someone born by caesarian section; who kills him! Clearly born is Ambiguous. Repeated in Lord of the rings no man can kill me

12 Persuasiveness Very similar to equivocation, your ear will fool you. Especially in spoken context when punctuation is not available to guide you.

13 More examples: The anthropologists went to a remote area and took photographs of some native women, but they weren't developed. (from Marilyn vos Savant)

14 Ancient Example When considering going to war against the Greeks the Lydian King Croesus consulted the oracle at Delphi. The Oracle told Croesus that if he pursued the war he would destroy a mighty kingdom.

15 Ancient Example When considering going to war against the Greeks the Lydian King Croesus consulted the oracle at Delphi. The Oracle told Croesus that if he pursued the war he would destroy a mighty kingdom. What the Oracle did not mention was that the kingdom he destroyed would be his own. (Adapted from Heroditus, The Histories.)

16 Example Amphiboly Depending on how you read this, this might be an early example of Pres. Carters liberal attitude to Same sex marriage.

17 Accent (A3) Committed when a shift in emphasis changes the truth value of statements within an argument. Eg: I resent that Letter. I resent that letter I resent that letter

18 Persuasiveness Very similar to equivocation and amphiboly. Accent is very hard to read in written form. Emoticons invented to make clear the meaning of people on the internet.

19 F. Of Accent Rare? There are few words in English which change meaning because of emphasis. In some languages, including Ancient Greek, there are many. I recommend that textbooks stop devoting space to Accent, since it is not a useful fallacy. Presumably, the main reason why it still sometimes appears is historical inertia. Gary N. Curtis Copi includes shifts in emphasis on entire words within fallacy of accent.

20 Quoting out of Context Copi treats this as a special case of the fallacy of accent. "Who is Barack Obama? He says our troops in Afghanistan are just air-raiding villages and killing civilians'. How dishonorable. John Mccain ad

21 Actual Quote "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there." Quoting out of context is especially egregious if you ignore close and important modifiers like this use of not.

22 Bibliographic Citation The fallacy of quoting out of context is one reason academic research places importance on appropriate bibliographic citation. Anyone who so wishes can check how you manage your sources if you reference things properly. Apply principle of charity.

23 Fallacy of Composition (A4) Committed when, in the course of an argument, parts are confused with wholes. Form: X, a part of Y has property Z. Therefore Y has property Z. Example: This new train locomotive has lightweight aluminum cup-holders. Therefore this new locomotive is light.

24 Counterexample Atoms are colorless. Cats are made of atoms. Therefore cats are colorless.

25 Persuasiveness There is an ambiguity in our language between sentence subjects that are referenced distributively or collectively. This airline will fly passengers millions of miles this year. (refers to passengers collectively). This airline will serve passengers a light snack. (refers to passengers distributively) It is sometimes hard to tell the difference! Fallacies of composition and division use this!

26 Composition Examples This person thinks that since each portion of chips is diet, then all the chips are diet.

27 More examples Sodium and Chloride are both dangerous to humans. Therefore any combination of sodium and chloride will be dangerous to humans. What is Sodium Chloride? Busses use more fuel then cars, so we should all drive our cars instead of ride in busses if we want to conserve fuel.

28 Fallacy of Division The flip side of composition. Form: Y has property Z. Therefore X, a part of Y has property Z Example: Phil plays hockey and hockey players are among the greatest athletes on earth, so Phil is a great athlete.

29 Counterexample(s). Approximately 50% of people are men. Jack is a person, Therefore Approximately 50% of Jack is a man. Water extinguishes fires. Water is composed of Hydrogen and Oxygen. Therefore you should throw some hydrogen and oxygen on any fire you want to extinguish.

30

31 More examples Paul lives in a huge building, so his apartment must be large. Canada is a prosperous country, so Joe Canadian must be wealthy. Toyota s are very reliable cars. Therefore this Toyota will be reliable.

32 How about this Toyota? Maybe it was reliable 20 years ago.

33 Dogs and Cats Cats are popular pets, and Tiger is a cat. Therefore Tiger is popular. The Labrador Retriever is a hunting dog. Pokey is a Labrador Retriever, Therefore Pokey is a hunting dog.

34 Composition vs. Division If the conclusion is general and the premise is particular, then it is Composition. If the conclusion is particular and the premise is general then it is composition. This airplane can fly. This wheel is a part of the airplane. Therefore this wheel can fly. Parts This wheel cannot fly This wheel is a part of the airplane Therefore this airplane cannot fly. Wholes Watch for Parts vs. Wholes.

35 Composition/Division vs Accident/Converse Accident Accident/Converse Accident: Fallacies where the argument relies on some assumption made without justification. Composition/Division: Fallacies where the argument relies on some ambiguity between a distributive and collective reference.

36 End: Fallacies of Ambiguity.

37 End of Copi s Informal Fallacies He did all that could be expected of a Spaniard!

38 Manitoba s new slogan: Its Manitoba Time! Deliberately ambiguous. Manitoba is Due Manitoba s turn Its party time Manitoba catches up to Sask. ½ the year.

INFORMAL FALLACIES. Engel, S. Morris With Good Reason: An introduction to Informal Fallacies. 6 th ed. Bedford.

INFORMAL FALLACIES. Engel, S. Morris With Good Reason: An introduction to Informal Fallacies. 6 th ed. Bedford. INFORMAL FALLACIES Engel, S. Morris. 2000. With Good Reason: An introduction to Informal Fallacies. 6 th ed. Bedford. http://www.iep.utm.edu/f/fallacy.htm http://onegoodmove.org/fallacy/toc.htm http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

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