Equivocation

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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.
  2. "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.
  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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