fallacies of composition/division

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John Stuart Mill (1806—1873) philosopher, economist, and advocate of women's rights


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The fallacy of composition is one of arguing that because something is true of members of a group or collection, it is true of the group as a whole. For example, in Utilitarianism, J. S. Mill appears to argue that since each person desires just their own happiness, people together desire the common happiness. (The correct conclusion has to be that nobody desires the common happiness—the premise of the argument tells us that each person desires just his or her own.) The fallacy of division is the converse fallacy of arguing that if something is true of a group, then it is also true of individuals belonging to it: See also collective/distributive.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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