Fallacy: Division

Description of Division

The fallacy of Division is committed when a person infers that what is true of a whole must also be true of its constituents and justification for that inference is not provided.

There are two main variants of the general fallacy of Division:

The first type of fallacy of Division is committed when 1) a person reasons that what is true of the whole must also be true of the parts and 2) the person fails to justify that inference with the required degree of evidence. More formally, the “reasoning” follows this sort of pattern:

  1. The whole, X, has properties A, B, C, etc.
  2. Therefore the parts of X have properties A, B, C, etc.
  1. As a collective, Group or class X has properties A, B, C, etc.
  2. Therefore the individual members of group or class X have properties A, B, C, etc.

Examples of Division

  1. “The ball is blue, therefore the atoms that make it up are also blue.”
  2. “A living cell is organic material, so the chemicals making up the cell must also be organic material.”
  3. “Bill lives in a large building, so his apartment must be large.”
  4. “Sodium chloride (table salt) may be safely eaten. Therefore its constituent elements, sodium and chloride, may be safely eaten.”
  5. “Americans use much more electricity than Africans do. So Bill, who lives in primitive cabin in Maine, uses more electricity than Nelson, who lives in a modern house in South Africa. “
  6. “Men receive more higher education than women. Therefore Dr. Jane Smart has less higher education than Mr. Bill Buffoon. “
  7. “Minorities get paid less than ‘whites’ in America. Therefore, the black CEO of a multi-billion dollar company gets paid less than the white janitor who cleans his office.”
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