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FALLACIES OF

AMBIGUITY
Ambiguity
• Using language or linguistic structures
with more than one meaning to
mislead or misrepresent the truth.
Fallacies of Ambiguity
• These fallacies typically occur in an
argument using ambiguous words or
phrases, whose meaning shifts and
changes (to various degrees of
subtlety) during the course of the
argument.
Five Types of Fallacies of
Ambiguity

• Equivocation
• Accent/Emphasis
• Grammatical Construction
• Composition
• Division
1. Equivocation
Definition: an argument that uses one
word to mean two different things.

Example #1: The end justifies the means.


Death is the end of life.
Therefore, one’s death
justifies the means of life.
1. Equivocation
Definition: Mistakenly equating two
different meanings of one word.

Example #2: God is love.


Love is blind.
Stevie Wonder is blind.
Therefore, Stevie Wonder is
God.
1. Equivocation
Consider the following arguments:
(1) An elephant is an animal.
Therefore, a gray elephant is a gray animal

(2) An elephant is an animal.


Therefore, a small elephant is a small animal.
2. Accent
Definition: There is a change in the
meaning of the word by putting an
emphasis or accent when speaking.
2. Accent
Consider the following:
(1) Woman, without her MAN would
be lost.
(2) Woman, without HER, man would
be lost.
2. Accent
Consider the following:
(1) WE should be kind to our enemies.
(2) We SHOULD be kind to our
enemies.
3. Grammatical Construction
or Amphiboly
• Definition: An unclear statement
because of the loose or awkward
way its words are combined.

Example #1: He left her at home with


much regret.
3. Grammatical Construction
or Amphiboly

Example #2: “the bullet was in her yet.”


4. Composition
• Definition: Applying properties of parts
of a whole to the whole itself.

• Example #1: Since every part of a


sewing machine is light in weight, it
follows that a sewing machine is
light in weight.
4. Composition
Example #2:

Buses use more fuel than cars. Therefore it


is not economical to use buses for public
transportation..
5. Division
• Definition: What is true for the whole is
true of its parts.

• Example #1:
Northern Illinois University is a
very important institution.
Prof. Blecksmith is on the faculty of
NIU.
Therefore, Prof. Blecksmith is very
important.
5. Division
Example #2:
Because cars use more fuel than
buses, it will be more economical for my
colleague and I to take the school bus to
the meeting rather than drive in my car.