Equivocation

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Equivocation is a [[:Category: Logical Fallacies|logical fallacy]] that involves taking a word with more than one definition and freely substituting one definition for another.
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Equivocation is a [[logical fallacy]] that involves taking a word with more than one definition and freely substituting one definition for another.
  
 
For example: "A feather is light.  Therefore, a feather cannot be dark."  There are two meanings of the word "light."  The first sentence assumes a meaning that is the opposite of "heavy," not the opposite of "dark."
 
For example: "A feather is light.  Therefore, a feather cannot be dark."  There are two meanings of the word "light."  The first sentence assumes a meaning that is the opposite of "heavy," not the opposite of "dark."

Revision as of 07:29, 20 June 2006

Equivocation is a logical fallacy that involves taking a word with more than one definition and freely substituting one definition for another.

For example: "A feather is light. Therefore, a feather cannot be dark." There are two meanings of the word "light." The first sentence assumes a meaning that is the opposite of "heavy," not the opposite of "dark."

This fallacy is used frequently in the service of apologetics arguments. A few examples:

  1. Atheism is based on faith. There are multiple meanings of the word "faith".
  2. No true Scotsman fallacy. When somebody says "So-and-so wasn't really a Christian because he did that," they are relying on ambiguity in the word "Christian".
  3. The existence of laws implies a law-giver. This stems from a confusion between natural laws and legal laws.
  4. Evolution is only a theory. This plays on the confusion between the scientific and colloquial definitions of the word "theory".

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