I am now working on more definitions for the Comprehensible Philosophy Dictionary. What follows are several new definitions that will be added to it. Let me know if anything should be improved.
a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter – Latin for “where an acceptable exception is simplified.” A synonym for “hasty generalization.”
a dicto simpliciter – Latin for “from a saying without qualification.” A synonym for “hasty generalization.”
anti-coercion principle – A synonym for “principle of non-aggression.”
apophatic mysticism – A view that the objects of mystical experience can’t be meaningfully described in words. “Apophatic mysticism” can be contrasted with “kataphatic mysticism.” See “mystical experience” for more information.
arbitrary redefinition – Redefining a term with the intent of misleading people (and often with the intent of causing people to equivocate the new and old definition). For example, we could redefine “human” to be “rational animal.” However, that could mean that babies are not human, and that intelligent reptilian extra-terrestrial aliens are humans. See “equivocation,” “stipulative definition,” and “doublespeak” for more information.
argument by consensus – A synonym for “appeal to popularity.”
argument from authority – A synonym for “appeal to authority.”
argumentum ad Hitlerum – Latin for “argument to Hitler.” A synonym for “reductio ad Hitlerum.”
argumentum ad naturam – Latin for “appeal to nature.” A synonym for “naturalistic fallacy.”
argumentum ad populum – Latin for “appeal to the people.” A synonym for “appeal to popularity.”
argumentum ad verecundiam – A synonym for “appeal to authority.”
Aristotelian logic – (1) The view of logic that was developed by Aristotle. It included a discussion of validity, deduction, induction, syllogisms, fallacies, and rhetoric. Aristotle’s formal system focused on “term logic” and quantification rather than propositional logic. (2) A synonym for “Aristotle’s term logic.”
Aristotelian square of opposition – A synonym for “traditional square of opposition.”
Aristotle’s term logic – The deductive logical system developed by Aristotle that focuses on categorical syllogisms and the identification of logical validity. Aristotle’s deductive logical system is now considered to be somewhat outdated because it violates the “existential fallacy” (or various arguments will require a certain unstated premise). Unlike contemporary logical systems, Aristotle’s system requires the assumption that there are no empty sets. It says we can validly argue “All A are B. Therefore, some A are B.” This argument requires the assumption that some A exists. See “term logic” and “existential fallacy” for more information.
aspectual – Relating to one aspect or element of an experience. For example, having pleasure in contemplating another person’s pain might have negative value in some overall sense, but the pleasure itself could still have positive value in an aspectual sense. “Aspectual” can be contrasted with “episodic.”
asserting the consequent – A synonym for “affirming the consequent.”
attributionism – The view that there are no inherently religious or mystical experiences. The attributionist will say that some people attribute a religious or mystical character to an experience, but it is not because the experience is inherently different from other experiences. Attributionists deny that there are parts of reality that could only be experienced from a mystical experience. In that case no experience (prior to argument) could prove a supernatural God’s existence because we could be deceived and we might have been experiencing the existence of something else. In that case we would have to reason about the mystical experience to decide what it is probably an experience of. “Attributionism” can be contrasted with “inherentism.”
axiological experientialism – The view that only experiences have intrinsic value. Those who endorse this view often agree that pleasure is intrinsically good and pain is intrinsically bad, but they often reject the view that knowledge is intrinsically good. See “intrinsic value” for more information.
card stacking – A synonym for “one-sidedness” or “cherry picking.”
categorical logic – (1) A synonym for “term logic.” (2) A mathematical system of predicate logic developed by William Lawvere.
cohere – (1) For propositions to be justified in some way based on the “coherence theory of justification.” Propositions can cohere in the sense of being logically consistent with other propositions or experiences in some set. It might also be possible for some propositions and experiences to be mutually supporting in some way, and those propositions and experiences could also be said to cohere. See the “coherence theory of justification” for more information. (2) To stick together. (3) To agree.
coherence theory of justification – The view that there are no foundational beliefs, but that some beliefs can be mutually supported by other beliefs or experiences. It is sometimes claimed that an assumption is justified through coherence if it is useful as part of an explanation. Observation itself is plausibly meaningless without assumptions (such as the fact that you aren’t just seeing color blotches), and observation could be thought to confirm our assumptions as long as our observations are consistent with them. For example, my assumption that a table exists can be confirmed by touching the table, and my experiences involved with touching the table confirms my assumption that the table exists. Some philosophers argue that coherentism should be rejected because it illegitimately allows “circular reasoning,” which we ordinarily recognize as being a fallacious form of justification. However, coherentists generally claim that circular reasoning is not vicious as long as enough beliefs are mutually supporting in the right way.
coherence theory of knowledge – (1) A synonym for “coherence theory of justification.” (2) The coherentist view that all beliefs that are justified in the right way are known to be true. How exactly beliefs must be justified is controversial, but it is often thought by coherentists that certain beliefs are supported by other beliefs, and that justified beliefs must be consistent with our other beliefs. See “coherence theory of justification” for more information.
coherence theory of truth – The view that a proposition is true based on some relation to other propositions. Those who accept this theory will argue that a belief is false if it is insufficiently consistent with certain other beliefs and observations. That could imply that what is true is only true for certain people because it is often thought that they should strive to have consistent beliefs based on their own understanding of things. Those who accept the theory are likely to think that justified and true beliefs are identical, and differing coherentist views of justification have been proposed. See the “coherence theory of justification” for more information. The “coherence theory of truth” can be contrasted with the “correspondence theory of truth.”
coherentism – See “coherence theory of truth” or “coherence theory of justification.”
confidence – (1) A synonym for “psychological certainty.” (2) To have trust or self-reliance. (3) To believe oneself to be worthy or qualified for something.
conjunction fallacy – An argument commits the conjunction fallacy when it requires us to contradict the fact that conjunction of two different propositions (that each have a chance at being false) has a lower chance of both being true than merely one of the propositions. For example, it is less likely that “Tina is an accountant who works at a bank” than that “Tina works at a bank” (who might not also be an accountant). One explanation for why people often commit the conjunction fallacy is that we use the “representativeness heuristic.” See “conjunction” for more information.
contextual value – A type of value that depends on the relations or context without merely adding valuable elements to it. For example, feeling pain (from empathy) while contemplating another person’s unjust suffering could be plausibly considered to have positive contextual value. The pain itself seems to be bad, but the pain is plausibly appropriate (and perhaps good) given the context. “Contextual value” can be contrasted with “contributory value.”
contradictory – (1) See “contradictory proposition.” (2) See “contradictory inference.” (3) When two propositions form a contradiction—when they can’t both be true at the same time. For example, it’s contradictory to say, “Exactly four people exist” and “only two people exist.”
contradictory inference – A valid immediate inference made based on the fact that all propositions that contradict true propositions must be false. In term logic, there are eight traditional types of contradictory inferences based on the fact that “all A are B” has the opposite truth value as “some A are not-B;” and “no A are B” has the opposite truth value as “some A are B.” For example, we can validly argue “All A are B. Therefore, it is false that some A are not-B.” See “term logic,” “immediate inference,” and “valid argument” for more information.
contradictory propositions – (1) In term logic, contradictory propositions are the negation of a categorical statement expressed in a different categorical form. For example, “no men are immortal” is the contradictory of “some men are immortal.” There are two types of contradictory propositions in term logic: (a) “All A are B” has the opposite truth value as “some A are not-B.” (b) “No A are B” has the opposite truth value as “some A are B.” For example, if “all A are B” is false, then “some A are not-B” is true. “All A are B” is logically equivalent to “it is false that some A are not-B.” See “contradictory inference” and “term logic” for more information. (2) Two statements that can’t both be factually true at the same time. One statement implies the negation of the other. For example, “there is life on another planet” contradicts the statement “there is no life on another planet.”
contributory value – A type of value that increases through addition rather than context. The intensity and duration of pleasure could be said to have contributory value because increasing the intensity and duration of pleasure seems like a good example of adding something that increases value. “Contributory value” can be contrasted with “contextual value.”
contrary – See “contrary inference” or “contrary propositions.”
contrary inference – According to Aristotelian term logic, contrary inference is a valid type of inference based on the knowledge that two propositions are contrary—two propositions that can both be false, but they can’t both be true. According to Arostotelian term logic, there are two traditional types of valid contrary inference: (a) An argument with the form “All A are B. Therefore, it is false that no A are B.” (b) An argument with the form “No A are B. Therefore, it is false that all A are B.” Contrary inference is rejected by contemporary term logic. See “term logic” and “immediate inference” for more information.
contrary propositions – Two propositions that can both be false, but they can’t both be true. If one is true, then the other is false. According to Aristotelian term logic, “all A are B” is contrary to “no A are B.” If “All humans are mammals” is true, then “no humans are mammals” is false. See “contrary inference” for more information.
converse accident – A synonym for “hasty generalization.”
destroying the exception – A synonym for “hasty generalization.”
doublespeak – Using language in a way to deceive people, such as the use of euphemisms or jargon. For example, we say that there is collateral damage from acts of war when we kill innocent civilians, which can soften the blow of finding out that innocent people are dying. Doublespeak is often employed when people give an “arbitrary redefinition.” See “loaded words” and “booby trap” for more information.
episodic – Relating to an overall experience. For example, going to college will likely involve some negative experiences, such as doing painstaking homework. Even so, going to college could still be experienced as being a good thing overall because it could also include experiences of self-improvement and other positive learning experiences. In that case going to college could be said to have positive value in an episodic sense, even though there are some negative elements involved. “Episodic” can be contrasted with “aspectual.”
experiential foundationalism – The view that there are basic beliefs (that are not justified by an argument or by other beliefs), that some basic beliefs are justified by our experiences of things, and that basic beliefs can be about things other than our mental states. For example, the belief that a banana is yellow could be a basic belief that refers to an actual object (the actual banana) that’s not merely part of your mental state. It could be argued that this belief is basic because it’s justified due to something other than a belief, i.e. your experience of a yellow banana. “Experiential foundationalism” can be contrasted with “privilege foundationalism.”
experientialism – (1) See “axiological experientialism.” (2) See “experientialist epistemology.” (3) See “experientialist curriculum theory.”
experientialist curriculum theory – A theory of education developed by John Dewey. It is the view that schools should help students relate educational material to their experiences, interests, and needs. Students are often thought to learn best when they have time to reflect on how the educational material relates to their past experiences and personal interests.
experientialist epistemology – The view that all knowledge comes from experience. An example of knowing something through experience is when we can know that a penny is left on the ground by looking at it. Experientialist epistemology is often taken as a synonym of “empiricism.”
experimentalism – (1) The view that experiments play an important role in helping us know more about reality. (2) The view that a belief is justified based on the fact that it has certain implications for our experiences. Also, those with this view believe the role experiments have is central to our understanding of the world because it helps us know if our hypotheses and beliefs are consistent with the actual experiences people have of the world. Experiments often help us know when a hypothesis or belief is false because the results of the experiment can be inconsistent with the hypothesis or belief. For example, we can hypothesize that heavy objects fall faster than light objects by dropping various heavy and light objects simultaneously and seeing if heavy objects fall faster. We have found out that the weight of an object does not make it fall faster doing experiments like this. (3) The view of education that schooling should focus on providing students with certain experiences, and that it should give students an opportunity to reflect on their experiences. The importance of experiences is emphasized because it is thought that our beliefs of the world need to be consistent with our experiences of the world. (The assumption is that our experiences of the world are based on how the world really is.) Also, the importance of experimentation is emphasized because experiments can be used to help us know when a hypothesis or belief is consistent with our experiences of the world.
extrovertive experience – A type of mystical experience. An experience that is ordinary in most respects that involves sense perception or introspection, but also provides knowledge that would not be something we could know about through ordinary experience. For example, some people might say that they can know something about the divine while looking at an ordinary object. “Extrovertive experience” can be contrasted with “introvertive experience.”
hedonic – Relating to pleasure or pain. Pain has negative hedonic value and pleasure has positive hedonic value. For example, watching a frightening horror movie can be experienced as being pleasurable overall (having positive hedonic value), but the fear experienced while watching a horror movie is likely to have some negative feelings involved and those feelings have a negative hedonic value.
high redefinition – A redefinition with a larger scope than the original definition. The redefinition increases the amount of things that count. For example, we could redefine “dog” to be “any furry animal with four legs.” In that case horses, cats, and rabbits would also count as dogs. “High redefinition” can be contrasted with “low redefinition.”
hindsight bias – The human tendency to believe our predictions are more accurate than they really are, as well as the human tendency to believe that whatever actually happens in the past was more predictable than it really was. People often think they remember making correct predictions that they never made, and they often fail to remember incorrect predictions they make.
Hitler card – A synonym for “reductio ad Hitlerum.”
ignoratio elenchi – Latin for “ignorance of refutation.” A synonym for “red herring.”
illicit contrary – A misapplied contrary inference. For example, to argue that “It is false that all A are B. Therefore, No A are B.” See “contrary inference” and “Aristotelian term logic” for more information.
illicit quantifier shift – A synonym for “quantifier-shift fallacy.”
illicit subalternation – A misapplied subalternation. For example, to use a premise with the form “some A are B” and use that to conclude that “all A are B.” See “subalternation” and “Aristotelian term logic” for more information.
illicit subcontrary – A misapplied subcontrary inference. For example, to argue that “Some A are B. Therefore, it is false that some A are not-B.” See “subcontrary inference” and “Aristotelian term logic” for more information.
illicit substitution of identicals – A synonym for the “masked man fallacy.”
immediate inference – An inference from a single proposition. For example, we can validly argue that “Some lizards are reptiles. Therefore, it is false that no lizards are reptiles.” Types of valid immediate inference in Aristotelian term logic includes “contradictory inference,” “contrary inference,” and “subcontrary inference.” See “term logic” for more information.
ineffable – The property of being indescribable. If something can’t be described in words, then it’s ineffable. Anything said about something ineffable is false or meaningless. It has been argued that the Tao is ineffable.
inherentism – The view that there are inherently religious or mystical experiences because mystical experiences are a different kind of experience than we could have through sense perception or introspection. Inherentists believe that there is a part of reality that can’t be experienced with sense perception or introspection, but that ordinarily inaccessible part of reality can be experienced during a mystical experience. Moreover, they believe that mystical experiences can prove the existence of parts of reality that are ordinarily hidden from us because we can know what the experience is of just by having the experience. We would not have to reason about the experience to decide what part of reality it’s about. “Inherentism” can be contrasted with “attributionism.”
intergroup bias – The human tendency to view members of groups that one associates with in a more positive light than those one does not associate with. For example, people of a religious group are more likely to view the actions of others who share their religion in a positive light than members of another religious group. The intergroup bias is also related to various types of prejudice (such as sexism and racism).
intrinsic value – (1) Something with value just for existing. We might say happiness is “good for its own sake” to reflect that it is good without merely being useful to help us attain some other goal. If something is intrinsically good, then it is something we should try to promote. For example, if human life is intrinsically good, then all things equal, saving lives would plausibly be (a) rational, (b) a good thing to do, and (c) the right thing to do. (2) In economics, “intrinsic value” refers to the monetary value an object, it is thought to be contained by the object itself, and it is generally thought to be based on the cost of producing the object.
introvertive experience – A type of mystical experience that is thought to involve the absence of ordinary sense perception or introspection. For example, some people say that they have experienced nothingness. “Introvertive experience” can be contrasted with “extrovertive experience.”
is/ought fallacy – A fallacy committed by deductive arguments that have nonmoral premises and a moral conclusion (assuming that there are no unstated premises). For example, “Punching people causes them pain. Therefore, we should never punch anyone without an overriding reason to do so.” Deductive arguments that commit this fallacy are logically invalid. However, this fallacy is at least somewhat controversial for two reasons. One, some philosophers argue that certain moral facts are identical to nonmoral facts. Perhaps causing pain is identical to the fact that we shouldn’t do it (when we lack an overriding reason to do it). Two, the fallacy is technically against deductive arguments, but some philosophers believe it is often misapplied to arguments that are not deductive. See “deduction” and “valid argument” for more information.
is/ought problem – The question concerning how we know moral facts, or the question about whether or not knowing moral facts can even be possible. It is often phrased as a question similar to, “How do we know what ought to be the case from what is the case?” (Many people seem to think we can only know what ought to be the case from what is the case.) Moral facts (what ought to be the case) and nonmoral facts (what is the case) are thought by many people to be two totally different kinds of things. We are often thought to know nonmoral facts through observation, but that we can’t know moral facts that way. We can experience that certain things exist, but it is not as obvious that we can experience that things should be a certain way. We often experience that things are different than they way they should be. The solution to the is/ought problem would tell us how we can know about moral facts (perhaps by knowing nonmoral facts). See “moral fact” for more information.
kataphatic mysticism – A view that the objects of mystical experience can be meaningfully described in words. “Kataphatic mysticism” can be contrasted with “apophatic mysticism.” See “mystical experience” for more information.
liar paradox – An argument that seems to lead to a contradiction due to a self-referential statement that claims something is false. The classic example of a liar paradox is “this sentence is false.” Assume it’s true. In that case it’s false. Now assume it’s false. In that case it’s true. Assuming it’s either true or false, we have to admit that it’s both true and false. See “contradiction” for more information.
linguistic snare – A peculiarity of language that causes confusion, which often involves “ambiguity” or “vagueness.” One type of linguistic snare is intentional, and is called a “boobytrap.” Also see “doublethink” and “equivocation” for more information.
low redefinition – A redefinition with a smaller scope than the original definition. The redefinition decreases the amount of things that count. For example, we could define “mammal” as “a warm-blooded animal that gives birth to live young.” In that case platypuses would not count as mammals because they lay eggs. “Low redefinition” can be contrasted with “high redefinition.”
masked man fallacy – A fallacy committed by an argument that illegitimately substitutes one identical object for another. For example, we could argue that “Lois Lane believes that she is in love with Superman. Superman is Clark Kent. Therefore, Lois Lane believes that she is in love with Clark Kent.” The problem is that Lois Lane might not know that Superman is Clark Kent. It’s called the “masked man fallacy” because one way the fallacy can be committed is when we don’t know that two identical people are the same person because the person often wears a mask. We often have a hard time knowing who criminals are when they wear masks.
Machiavellianism – (1) Endorsing the beliefs, arguments, and method of Niccolò Machiavelli, which is generally based on his book The Prince. It is there that Machiavelli talked about how political leaders can manipulate the public to gain their trust in order to attain greater political power. (2) The use of cunning, duplicity, manipulation, and deception in order to benefit oneself and to attain greater political power. Machiavellianism often involves the rejection of morality and the refusal to live by ethical standards. However, people who behave in Machiavellian ways are often interested in having a good reputation.
mereological essentialism – The view that objects are necessarily the type of object they are because of the parts that they are made of. If an object would gain or lose a part, then it would become a different type of object. Mereological essentialism is related to questions of identity, permanence, and persistence in time. For example, it is plausible to think that water is H2O and would not be H2O if you removed a hydrogen or oxygen molecule from it. A mereological essentialist would argue that all objects are like that.
modern square of opposition – A diagram that helps logic students know how to make various valid immediate inferences. The modern square of opposition was developed for contemporary “term logic.” See “square of opposition” and “traditional square of opposition” for more information.
moral fact – The reality or states of affairs that makes certain moral statements true other than merely the interests or beliefs of people. For example, it could be a fact that pain is intrinsically bad (or that we have a reason not to cause pain). However, some people reject the existence of moral facts and think morality is ultimately about our beliefs or desires. Perhaps we care about other people, and say we shouldn’t cause pain because of how we feel. See “moral realism” for more information.
mystical experience – An unusual experience that is different in kind from ordinary perceptions we have of physical reality, and distinct from introspection. These experiences are often thought to give us access to information about reality beyond what we can know through ordinary sense perception or introspection, such as of a supernatural divinity. We can know about tables, chairs, and thoughts through ordinary sense perception, but perhaps we can only know about a divinity through mystical experience.
mysticism – (1) The philosophical study concerning mystical experiences. See “mystical experiences” for more information. (2) The view that we can have mystical experiences. (3) The pursuit of mystical experience.
naturalistic fallacy – (1) A fallacious type of argument that requires the unwarranted assumption that the fact that something is the case means it ought to be the case. For example, to argue that people should be selfish because they are selfish. (2) A fallacious form of argument that concludes that goodness is identical with some natural property or state of affairs just because goodness is always accompanied by the natural property or state of affairs. For example, to argue that pleasure and goodness are identical just based on the belief that pleasure always accompanies goodness. Some philosophers—such as moral identity theorists—argue that this type of argument isn’t necessarily fallacious. (3) A synonym for the “is/ought fallacy.”
negative test strategy – To try to find counter-evidence against a belief. Such evidence could be said to falsify or refute the belief. For example, a person who believes that all mammals give birth to live young could try to find out if there are any mammals that lay eggs instead.
non-aggression principle – A synonym for “principle of non-aggression.”
non-initiation of force – A synonym for “principle of non-aggression.”
outcome bias – The human tendency to judge how reasonable or ethical decisions are based on the outcome, even when we shouldn’t do so. If the outcome is good, then we are more likely to evaluate the decision in a positive light; and if it’s bad, then we are more likely to evaluate it in a negative light. For example, we are likely to believe that the decision to drive drunk is less reasonable when it leads to injury or death than if it caused no harm.
overconfidence – (1) To feel that a belief is probably true based on insufficient justification. People have been shown to be systematically overconfident about their beliefs. This is due in-part to the fact that the feeling we have of certainty often has little to do with the actual probability of a belief being true. See “overconfidence effect,” “psychological certainty,” and “epistemic certainty” for more information. (2) To believe oneself to be more worthy or qualified for something than is reasonable. For example, a person might think she is more qualified than doctors at practicing medicine, even though she has no formal medical training. See the “Dunning-Kruger effect” for more information.
overgeneralization – A synonym for “hasty generalization.”
particular negative – A synonym for “I-type proposition.”
particular positive – A synonym for “O-type proposition.”
perennialism – (1) The view that there is at least one type of mystical experience that is universally found in all cultures. It is often thought that multiple cultures all have the same type of mystical experience because it is a reliable way to attain certain types of knowledge that would otherwise be inaccessible to us. (2) The view that there is a truth found in several major religions that have been interpreted in several different ways. (3) A view about education that schools should teach unchanging ideas rather than contingent facts. For example, mathematics and scientific reasoning should be taught rather than how to use a computer.
poisoning the well – To say something negative about an opponent or opposing group during a debate in order to encourage people to dismiss the arguments given by the opponent or opposing group. For example, we could mention how an opponent in a debate did something immoral or illegal in the past. Also see “ad hominem” and “halo effect” for more information.
positive test strategy – To try to find evidence that confirms a belief. Such evidence is consistent with the belief. For example, if you lost your keys, you might think it’s in your coat pocket and check there. “Positive test strategy” can be contrasted with “negative test strategy.”
principle of non-aggression – A principle that affirms our moral right to not be harmed by others. This principle is taken by some to require absolute pacifism (no violence at all), but many take it as a requirement of an overriding reason to commit violence. It is plausible to think that it’s wrong to go around killing people just because they make you angry, but there could be overriding reasons that would require us to be violent. For example, it might be necessary to kill a person who is going around murdering children when there’s no better alternative course of action.
principle of non-injury – A synonym for “principle of non-aggression.”
principle of non-interference – A synonym for “principle of non-aggression.”
principles of explanatory sufficiency – A synonym for “principles of plenitude.”
principles of plenitude – (1) Principles that encourage us to affirm the existence of entities. Such principles would state that we ought not reject the existence of entities when we have a good reason to believe in them—perhaps because the entities would best explain our experiences. Principles of plentitude could be types of “theoretical virtues.” There could be certain characteristics an explanation has to have in order to be better than the alternatives. Comprehensiveness is often given as one example of a theoretical virtue, but it’s not the only one. See “comprehensiveness” for more information. (2) A principle that states that any entity that could possibly exist actually exists. For example, Leibniz believed that God created the best of all possible worlds, which contains the maximal number of possible entities.
privilege foundationalism – The view that there are basic beliefs (that are not justified by an argument or by other beliefs), basic beliefs are not justified by our experiences, and all basic beliefs are about one’s own mental states. For example, it is plausible that the belief that you experience that a banana looks yellow to you can be a basic belief that only refers to your own mental states. That belief refers to our experiences rather than to an actual banana. What justifies the belief is controversial, but it might be the fact that the belief can’t be refuted by others. See “basic belief” for more information. “Privilege foundationalism” can be contrasted with “experiential foundationalism.”
property rights – A principle that affirms our moral right to own private property. It is thought that the right to own property explains (at least in part) why it’s wrong to steal without an overriding reason to do so. For example, it is plausible to think that it’s wrong to steal a person’s car just because you want it, but a starving person who has no better way to get food might be morally justified in stealing food from someone who doesn’t need it.
quantifcation – Involving quantifiers. See “quantifier” for more information.
quantifier-shift fallacy – A fallacy committed by an argument that illegitimately changes the quantifier. (Quantifiers include the words “all,” “some,” “none,” or “some are not.”) There are certain rules for how we are allowed to change quantifiers in a deductive argument, and other ways that can’t be rationally deduced. For example, someone could argue that “All people have a mother, therefore there is a mother of all people.”
quote mining – A synonym for “quoting out of context.”
redefinition – To assign a new meaning to a word. For example, we could redefine “dinosaur” as “any bird or reptile.” In that case lizards and snakes would count as dinosaurs. See “stipulative definition” for more information.
reductio ad Hitlerum – Latin for “reduction to Hitler.” An fallacy committed by an argument that rejects an argument or belief based on some association with Hitler. For example, we could argue that breathing air is immoral because Hitler breathed air. One popular version of this argument is that we shouldn’t have gun control because Hitler had gun control. See the “association fallacy” for more information.
regression to the mean – The fact that large sample sizes tend to have less extreme factors, and that small sample sizes tend to have more extreme factors. For example, if you flip a coin twice, then there’s pretty good odds of getting two heads or two tails in a row. We could then say we got heads or tails 100% of the time given the sample. Many people fail to realize when there is a regression to the mean causing extreme factors, and they believe that there is a causal explanation for the extreme factors. Consider that a larger percentage of various small populations have cancer simply because there’s a smaller sample size. Many people who hear about the extremely high concentration of cancer in small populations are likely to think there’s a causal reason that more people have cancer in those areas. See “non causa pro causa” for more information.
representativeness heuristic – Our tendency to make predictions and judgments about probability based on how representative the event or characteristic is. ‘Representativeness’ refers to generalizations that we consider when making predictions. For example, we are more likely to predict or assume that people who wear glasses read books. The fact that people often use a representativeness heuristic is why first impressions and stereotypes are often used to make predictions while relevant statistical information is dismissed. We are likely to think a socially awkward, nonathletic, dedicated, and intelligent student who knows how to write a computer program will likely become a computer programmer despite the fact that there are relatively few computer programmers, and there are many people who fit that description with other jobs.
reverse accident – A synonym for “hasty generalization.”
right to property – A synonym for “property rights.”
sensory modalities – Types of senses. The most common ones cited are touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. However, a sense of body position, temperature, and pain are also sensory modalities.
somatosensory modalities – Types of senses that do not originate from the eyes, ears, nose, or tongue. These include senses other than four of the five senses we hear about (i.e. sight, sound, taste, and smell). Somatosensory modalities include the sense of touch, body position, a sense of temperature, and pain.
square of opposition – A diagram showing how various types of categorical propositions relate, and to help logic students know how to make various types of valid immediate inferences. The square of opposition was originally developed to help people understand the term logic developed by Aristotle. For example, the square of opposition tells us that any statement with the form “all A are B” contradicts any statement with the form “some A are not-B.” “All ducks are birds” contradicts the statement “some ducks are not birds.” The square of opposition helps illustrate various forms of immediate inference. There are two types of square of opposition diagrams: (a) The “traditional square of opposition and (b) the “modern square of opposition.” See “categorical proposition” and “term logic” for more information.
subalternate propositions – Two categorical propositions with different logical forms that are both affirmative or negative. There are two types of subalternate propositions in Aristotelian term logic: (a) A set of two affirmative propositions. The first is a proposition with the form “all A are B” and the second is a proposition with the form “some A are B.” (b) A set of two negative propositions. The first proposition with the form “no A are B” and the second proposition with the form “some A are not-B.” See “subalternation” and “term logic” for more information.
subalternation – A specific rule of inference used by an outdated logical system (Aristotle’s term logic). All arguments that use this rule of inference were accepted as valid by that logical system. There are two types of subalternation: (a) To use a premise of the form “all A are B” and to conclude from that “some A are B.” (b) To use a premise with the form “no A are B” and to conclude from that “some A are not-B.” For example, some people will agree that “No dogs are reptiles. Therefore, some dogs are not reptiles.” Subalternation was originally thought to be valid, but we now know that it commits the “existential fallacy” (unless we can add an additional premise). See “term logic” for more information.
subcontrary inference – An inference based on the knowledge that two propositions are subcontrary—two propositions that can both be true, but they can’t both be false. According to Aristotelian term logic, there are two traditional types of valid subcontrary inference: (a) An argument with the form “It is false that some A are B. Therefore, some A are not-B.” (b) An argument with the form “It is false that some A are not-B. Therefore, some A are B.” However, contemporary term logic now rejects that these inferences are valid. See “term logic” for more information.
subcontrary propositions – Two propositions that can both be true, but they can’t both be false. If one is false, then the other is true. According to Aristotelian term logic, “some A are B” is subcontrary to “some A are not-B.” See “subcontrary inference” for more information. However, contemporary term logic does not find these propositions to be subcontrary.
subimplication – A synonym for “subalternation.”
superalternation – A specific rule of inference used in an outdated logical system (Aristotle’s term logic). There are two types of superalternation: (a) To use a premise with the form “it is false that some A are B” and to conclude from that “it is false that all A are B.” (This is logically equivalent to arguing that “No A are B. Therefore, some A are not-B.”) (b) To use a premise with the form “it is false that some A are not-B” and to conclude from that “it is false that no A are B.” (This is logically equivalent to arguing that “All A are B. Therefore, some A are B.”) Superalternation was originally thought to be valid, but is now thought to commit the “existential fallacy.” See “term logic” for more information.
superimplication – A synonym for “superalternation.”
suppressed evidence – A synonym for “one-sidedness” or “cherry picking.”
sweeping generalization – A synonym for “hasty generalization.”
term logic – The deductive logical system developed originally by Aristotle that focuses on categorical syllogisms and the identification of logical validity. Only “categorical propositions” are used. Term logic includes quantification, unlike propositional logic; but it lacks logical connectives other than negation. See “logical system,” “categorical syllogisms,” “valid argument,” “quantifier” and “logical connective” for more information.
Texas sharpshooter fallacy – Reasoning that requires an unwarranted assumption that a cluster of data must be caused by something rather than randomly determined. For example, we can imagine a Texas sharpshooter who shoots a hundred bullets at a wall and draws a red circle around a cluster of bullet holes. The sharpshooter claims that’s where she wanted to shoot all along and that proves she is a skilled sharpshooter, but in reality she just shot bullets almost at random and wants us to think she’s better at shooting than she really is. See “non causa pro causa” and “regression to the mean” for more information.
theurgic mysticism – A type of mysticism that requires people to actively try to have a mystical experience. For example, some people believe that fasting can help us have mystical experiences. See “mystical experience” for more information.
traditional logic – The view of logic that was developed by Aristotle and the Stoics. It included “propositional logic,” “term logic,” and the identification of various informal fallacies. See “Aristotle’s term logic” for more information.
traditional square of opposition – A diagram that helps logic students know how to make various valid immediate inferences. The traditional square of opposition was developed for “Aristotelian term logic.” The traditional square is now considered to be outdated because it requires the assumption that there are no empty sets. The traditional square allows for “subalteration” and “superalteration.” See “square of opposition” and “modern square of opposition” for more information.
universal negative – A synonym for “E-type proposition.”
universal positive – A synonym for “A-type proposition.”
unwarranted contrast – To fallaciously reason that “some A are B, therefore some A are not-B” and vice versa. These arguments are logically invalid. For example, to argue that “some fish have gills, therefore some fish do not have gills.” See “valid argument” for more information.
zero aggression principle – A synonym for “principle of non-aggression.”
- Comprehensible Philosophy Dictionary
- More Philosophy Definitions Part 1
- More Philosophy Definitions Part 2
- More Philosophy Definitions Part 3