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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.

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

  1. Atheism is based on faith.
    • There are multiple meanings of the word faith, for example things you trust in without critical analysis or things which people believe with good evidence.
  2. The Bible is Metaphorically true.
    • Metaphors are figurative language and as such aren't considered true or false. Declaring the Bible to be metaphorical allows one to assert the truth of the book without defending it. Subsequently those who use that argument slip back to the definition of true in the sense of reality after the calls to defend the Bible subside.
  3. "No true Scotsman" fallacy.
    • When someone says, "That person wasn't really a Christian because he did that," they are relying on ambiguity in the word Christian and redefining it to suit their needs.
  4. The existence of laws implies a law-giver.
    • This stems from a confusion between natural laws and legal laws. Even legal laws do not always require a law giver. Common law can involve customs which are Memes that evolved over time.
  5. Evolution is only a theory.
    • This plays on the confusion between the scientific and colloquial definitions of the word theory.

External Links

v · d Logical fallacies
v · d Formal fallacies
Propositional logic   Affirming a disjunct · Affirming the consequent · Argument from fallacy · False dilemma · Denying the antecedent
Quantificational logic   Existential fallacy · Illicit conversion · Proof by example · Quantifier shift
Syllogistic   Affirmative conclusion from a negative premise · Exclusive premises · Necessity · Four-term fallacy · Illicit major · Illicit minor · Undistributed middle

v · d Faulty generalisations
General   Begging the question · Gambler's fallacy · Slippery slope · Equivocation · argumentum verbosium
Distribution fallacies   Fallacy of composition · Fallacy of division
Data mining   Cherry picking · Accident fallacy · Spotlight fallacy · Hasty generalization · Special pleading
Causation fallacies   Post hoc ergo propter hoc · Retrospective determinism · Suppressed correlative · Wrong direction
Ontological fallacies   Fallacy of reification · Pathetic fallacy · Loki's Wager
v · d False relevance
Appeals   Appeal to authority · Appeal to consequences · Appeal to emotion · Appeal to motive · Appeal to novelty · Appeal to tradition · Appeal to pity · Appeal to popularity · Appeal to poverty · Appeal to spite · Appeal to wealth · Sentimental fallacy · Argumentum ad baculum
Ad hominem   Ad hominem abusive · Reductio ad Hitlerum · Judgmental language · Straw man · Tu quoque · Poisoning the well
Genetic Fallacies   Genetic fallacy · Association fallacy · Appeal to tradition · Texas sharpshooter fallacy
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