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.
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.
- Justice is blind
- Judges represent justice
- Conclusion: Judges should be blind
This is a common fallacy among deists/theists when they affirm things like:
- Life is a gift
- A gift is given by someone
- Conclusion: Someone must have created us
The problem with this conclusion is that the first argument gives 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 the second premise that a gift is a thing that has a giver and a receiver, therefore there must be a giver of that gift.
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.
- We are mistreating Nature
- There has been an increased number of natural disasters in the past years
- 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).