Thursday, February 23, 2012

Logical Fallacy of the Week, Week 25 The Continuum Fallacy

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The continuum fallacy (also called the fallacy of the beard, line drawing fallacy, bald man fallacy, fallacy of the heap, and the sorites fallacy) is an informal logical fallacy closely related to the sorites paradox, or paradox of the heap. The fallacy causes one to erroneously reject a vague claim simply because it is not as precise as one would like it to be. Vagueness alone does not necessarily imply invalidity.

The fallacy appears to demonstrate that two states or conditions cannot be considered distinct (or do not exist at all) because between them there exists a continuum of states. According to the fallacy, differences in quality cannot result from differences in quantity.
There are clearly reasonable and clearly unreasonable cases in which objects either belong or do not belong to a particular group of objects based on their properties. We are able to take them case by case and designate them as such even in the case of properties which may be vaguely defined. The existence of hard or controversial cases does not preclude our ability to designate members of particular kinds of groups.

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