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Showing posts from August, 2020
Language, Logic, and Action Pt. 5: Fallacy of Equivocation
by Hiram R. Diaz III
In this post, we will be looking at the fallacy du jour being used in most covid-19 discussions, namely the fallacy of equivocation. According to the Texas State Department of Philosophy, The fallacy of equivocation occurs when a key term or phrase in an argument is used in an ambiguous way, with one meaning in one portion of the argument and then another meaning in another portion of the argument.1 Here is a humorous example that is frequently used in logic textbooks – Hot dogs are better than nothing. Nothing is better than steak. Therefore, hot dogs are better than steak. We can retranslate the argument as follows – Having hot dogs is better than not having food to eat. Steak is qualitatively better than all other foods. Therefore, having hot dogs is qualitatively superior to all other foods. The argument underscores the necessity of disambiguation, as does the following, more serious, ex…