Understanding Fallacies

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Syllogistic Error

Fallacy of Four Terms

Example

  1. All dogs are animals, and all cats are mammals, so all dogs are mammals.
    The four terms are: dogs, animals, cats and mammals.
    Note:In many cases, the fallacy of four terms is a special case of equivocation. While the same word is used, the word has different meanings, and hence the word is treated as two different terms. Consider the following example:
  2. Only man is born free, and no women are men, therefore, no women are born free.
    The four terms are: man (in the sense of 'humanity'), man (in the sense of 'male'), women and born free.

Proof

Identify the four terms and where necessary state the meaning of each term.

Reference

Copi and Cohen: 206

Reference Guide
Fallacy Summary

The content of this Fallacy originated from Stephen Downes Guide to Logical Fallacies.

 

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