Fallacy of division
- A Boeing 747 can fly unaided across the ocean.
- A Boeing 747 has jet engines.
- Therefore, one of its jet engines can fly unaided across the ocean.
The converse of this fallacy is called fallacy of composition, which arises when one fallaciously attributes a property of some part of a thing to the thing as a whole. Both fallacies were addressed by Aristotle in Sophistical Refutations.
An application: Famously and controversially, in the philosophy of the Greek Anaxagoras (at least as it is discussed by the Roman atomist Lucretius), it was assumed that the atoms constituting a substance must themselves have the salient observed properties of that substance: so atoms of water would be wet, atoms of iron would be hard, atoms of wool would be soft, etc. This doctrine is called homeomeria, and it plainly depends on the fallacy of division.
If a system as a whole has some property that none of its constituents has (or perhaps, it has it but not as a result of some constituent having that property), this is sometimes called a emergent property of the system.
- "Division". The Fallacy Files.
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