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Equivocation

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Equivocation is an informal logical fallacy that occurs when some word or group of words is used either implicitly or explicitly in two different senses.[1][2] In other words, it is the use in a syllogism of a term more than once, but giving the term a different meaning each time.

Examples

Fallacious reasoning

Jonathan Sarfati illustrates the ambiguous use that evolutionists use to the term evolution:

It is vitally important that words such as "evolution" be used accurately and consistently...However, many evolutionary propagandists are guilty of the deceitful practice of equivocation, that is, switching the meaning of a single word (evolution) part way through an argument. A common tactic, "bait-and-switch," is simply to produce examples of change over time, call this "evolution," then imply that the GTE is thereby proven or even essential, and creation disproved.[3]

Semantic shift

Dean Overman provides a good example of this case[4]:

Only man is rational.
No woman is a man.
Therefore, no woman is rational.

Switch-referencing

Margarine is better than nothing.
Nothing is better than butter.
Therefore, margarine is better than butter.

See Also

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Warning:
This argument represents a
Equivocation.
Use the {{fallacy|Equivocation}} template to insert the above warning on a page containing an argument with “Equivocation”. The template links the warning label to this page.

References

  1. Hurley, Patrick J (2008). A Concise Introduction to Logic (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thompson Wadsworth. p. 437. ISBN 978-0-495-50383-5. 
  2. Bennett, Bo (2012). Logically...Fallacious:The Ultimate Collection of Over 300 Logical Fallacies. Sudbury, MA: eBookIt.com. p. 103-104. ISBN 978-1-4566-0752-4. 
  3. Sarfati, Jonathan (2002). Refuting Evolution 2. Greenforest AR: Master Books. p. 55. 
  4. Overman, Dean L (1997). A Case Against Accident and Self-Organization. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 10. ISBN 0-8476-8966-2.