Fallacy of Division
A fallacy of division is committed when an individual logically reasons that something that is true for the whole has to or must be true for some or all of its constituents or parts. Simply put, fallacy of division occurs when an individual infers that something that is true for the whole has to be true for its constituents without providing justification for their inference.
There are two types of the fallacy of division. The first type of this fallacy occurs when an individual reasons that something that is true for the whole must be true for the parts or constituents as well. The second type of fallacy of division occurs when an individual fails to provide justification for the inference with the necessary or required level of evidence.
This reasoning can be described in the following pattern:
- Properties A, B, and C are presence in the whole F
- Therefore, properties A, B and C are presence in the parts of F
This is a fallacious line of reasoning. It can be clarified by this other line of reasoning:
6 is an even number. 1 and 5 are parts or constituents of 6. Therefore, 1 and 5 are even numbers.
It is important to note that a conclusion or reasoning about the parts is not always fallacious when drawn from the properties or characteristics of a whole. Provided that sufficient evidence is supplied in an argument, the reasoning can eliminate the fallacy of division.
For instance, the body of human beings is made of matter. It is therefore reasonable to conclude or to infer that any part of the human body is made of matter. This is due to the fact that there is no reason to warrant the belief that there is a part of the human body that is made of non-material elements.
The second type of the fallacy of division occurs when an individual makes an inference about the characteristics or properties of a member of a group or class on the basis of the collective properties or characteristics of the group or class. It also occurs when no sufficient justification is provided for this conclusion.
This can be presented formally in this line of reasoning:
- Collectively, class or group F has the properties A, B and C
- Therefore, individual members of class or group F have the properties A, B and C
This is a fallacious line of reasoning. It can be shown in a clearer line of reasoning as follows: As a group of track runners, tennis players, swimmers, and long jumpers, athletes are footballers. However, it is fallacious to conclude that each athlete is a track runner, a football player, a tennis player and a swimmer.
It is worth noting that a conclusion drawn this way is not always fallacious. If sufficient evidence to support the inference is provided, then the fallacy of division is eliminated.
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