Fallacy of division

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A fallacy of division occurs when one reasons logically that if a property is true of something, it must be true of all of its parts.

For example:

  1. A Boeing 747 can fly unaided across the ocean.
  2. A Boeing 747 has jet engines.
  3. Therefore, one of its jet engines can fly unaided across the ocean.

A boeing 747 has the ability to fly unaided across the ocean because of the whole of the systems it contains allowing it to do so. Although the 747 can fly unaided, the engine does not contain the system that the 747 as a whole contains, and so it cannot fly unaided across the ocean.

Example two:

  1. Functioning brains think.
  2. Functioning brains are nothing but the neurons that they are composed of.
  3. If functioning brains think, then the individual neurons in them think.
  4. Individual neurons do not think.
  5. Functioning brains do not think. (From 3 & 4)
  6. Functioning brains think and functioning brains do not think. (From 1 & 5)

The opposite of the fallacy of division is the fallacy of composition, which occurs when one fallaciously attributes a property of a part to the sum of the parts as a whole. You can see both the fallacy of division (premise 3) and the fallacy of composition (premise's 4 & 5) in the second example.


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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