Composition fallacy – What it is, definition and concept

The fallacy of composition starts from the assumption that if a certain element is characterized by something in particular, the rest of the set will be equal to it.

The fallacy of composition is characterized by believing that a certain part of a whole is the one that characterizes the whole in itself. This is not true and can lead to errors and false assumptions.

It is very common for this fallacy to be revealed in today’s society and in certain fields. For example, indicate that a house is made of wood because it has several wooden elements, but it also has aluminum, among others. This would be an illustrative example of what the fallacy of composition is.

It tends to take for granted something true that only affects a part of something and not the whole. In the fallacy of composition, the characteristic of a single part of the whole is attributed to the whole.

What are the most prominent compositional fallacies out there?

These are the main ones:

  • Composition fallacy in everyday life: It is very common for this type of fallacy to occur in everyday life. A certain characteristic is being attributed that only affects one part, the whole. For example, a basketball team has two excellent players, but it is said that the team is fabulous in general attributing this to the rest of the members. In the fallacy of composition there are also many generalities. For example, if the Spanish movie I saw was horrible, all Spanish cinema is. The fallacy of composition is applied to cultural, social, stereotypes, religion, sports, among others.
  • Composition fallacy in religion: It is widely used in these issues. Arguments are given that do not have so much to do with faith, but with the fact that they cannot be real due to the impossibility of the circumstances and the elements. For example, God is almighty and is the creator of the eternal universe.
  • Fallacy of irrelevance: The problem is in the content, not in the form. Certain premises are given that cannot be completely true and a specific characteristic of that element is attributed to the whole. For example, this chair is made of wood, but it also has other metal elements that have not been taken into account.
  • Composition fallacy in economics: In this case, studies and certain economic aspects are attributed to a specific society and extrapolated to the rest. It is a common error when arguing certain economic aspects.
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Example of fallacy of composition

Indicating that a house is made of metal when it also has wooden parts, for example, is a case of fallacy of composition, since certain characteristics are attributed to a whole that affect only some elements.

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