Reification

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Reification means to convert an abstract concept or idea into a tangible entity or thing. The word is derived from the Latin words res (a thing) and facere (to make), so it would literally mean "to make a thing". An example of reification is when someone says "Justice is blind". Justice is an abstract concept, but the phrase is attributing it properties exclusive to seeing, tangible entities.
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'''Reification''' is to take an abstract concept or idea to be a tangible entity. The word is derived from the Latin ''res'' (a thing) and ''facere'' (to make), literally translated as "thing-making."
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Reification is often used when an abstract concept is intended metaphorically. Reification of a concept is not fallacious in this sense, unless the metaphor is taken literally to support an argument.
  
 
== Reification Fallacy ==
 
== Reification Fallacy ==
In informal logic, a reification fallacy occurs when one of the arguments in a syllogism reifies a concept, and the conclusion refers to the reified concept. This is a special case of Equivocation, because a word is being interpreted in a different way from what it actually means.
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In informal logic, a reification fallacy occurs when one of the arguments in a syllogism reifies a concept, and the conclusion refers to the reified concept. This is a special case of [[equivocation]], because a word is being interpreted in a different way from what it actually means.
  
 
For example:
 
For example:
A: Justice is blind
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# Justice is blind
B: Judges represent justice
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# Judges represent justice
Conclusion: Judges should be blind
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# Therefore, judges should be blind
  
This is a common fallacy among deists/theists that affirm things like:
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In this case, blindness is attributed to justice metaphorically, intended to mean that justice should be administered objectively. But instead, this argument relies on ''justice'' being reified - that is, it is taken literally to support the conclusion that judges should lack eyesight.
A: Life is a gift
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B: A gift is given by someone
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Conclusion: Someone must have created us
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The problem with this conclusion is that giving tangible properties to the abstract concept of Life (in this case, the property of being handed down from one person to another as an object) and then base the conclusion on argument B, that a gift is a '''thing''' that has a giver and a receiver, therefore there must be a giver of that gift.
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This is a common fallacy among deists/theists when they affirm things like:
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# Life is a gift
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# A gift is something that has to be given by someone
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# Therefore, someone must have given us life
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The statement that "life is a gift", though itself arguable, is intended metaphorically to mean that life should be treated as special, and cherished. But this argument reifies life, as if it were ''literally'' a gift. It has been attributed the properties of a physical gift, which can be given from one person to another.
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Note that the reverse argument is also possible. One who has endured a challenging life might argue that if there were a God, life is a gift from Him, and thus as a gift his life should have been better. Ergo, there must be no God. This argument also involves the reification of life.
  
 
== Pathetic Fallacy ==
 
== Pathetic Fallacy ==
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For example:
 
For example:
A: We are mistreating Nature
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# We are mistreating Nature
C: There has been an increased number of natural disasters in the past years
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# There has been an increased number of natural disasters in the past years
Conclusion: Nature is retaliating for our mistreatment
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# Conclusion: Nature is retaliating for our mistreatment
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The conclusion that nature is taking revenge for our mistreatment automatically gives the abstract concept of nature characteristics exclusive to humans (wanting to take revenge).
  
The conclusion that nature is taking revenge for our mistreatment automatically gives the abstract concept of nature characteristics exclusive to humans (being able to take revenge).
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[[Category:Philosophy]]
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[[Category:Logical fallacies]]

Latest revision as of 13:55, 12 March 2012

Reification is to take an abstract concept or idea to be a tangible entity. The word is derived from the Latin res (a thing) and facere (to make), literally translated as "thing-making."

Reification is often used when an abstract concept is intended metaphorically. Reification of a concept is not fallacious in this sense, unless the metaphor is taken literally to support an argument.

Reification Fallacy

In informal logic, a reification fallacy occurs when one of the arguments in a syllogism reifies a concept, and the conclusion refers to the reified concept. This is a special case of equivocation, because a word is being interpreted in a different way from what it actually means.

For example:

  1. Justice is blind
  2. Judges represent justice
  3. Therefore, judges should be blind

In this case, blindness is attributed to justice metaphorically, intended to mean that justice should be administered objectively. But instead, this argument relies on justice being reified - that is, it is taken literally to support the conclusion that judges should lack eyesight.

This is a common fallacy among deists/theists when they affirm things like:

  1. Life is a gift
  2. A gift is something that has to be given by someone
  3. Therefore, someone must have given us life

The statement that "life is a gift", though itself arguable, is intended metaphorically to mean that life should be treated as special, and cherished. But this argument reifies life, as if it were literally a gift. It has been attributed the properties of a physical gift, which can be given from one person to another.

Note that the reverse argument is also possible. One who has endured a challenging life might argue that if there were a God, life is a gift from Him, and thus as a gift his life should have been better. Ergo, there must be no God. This argument also involves the reification of life.

Pathetic Fallacy

This is a specific type of reification where an abstract idea is reified by anthropomorphizing it, and then a conclusion is drawn based on its new human properties.

For example:

  1. We are mistreating Nature
  2. There has been an increased number of natural disasters in the past years
  3. Conclusion: Nature is retaliating for our mistreatment

The conclusion that nature is taking revenge for our mistreatment automatically gives the abstract concept of nature characteristics exclusive to humans (wanting to take revenge).

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