Fallacy of composition
The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). For example: "This fragment of metal cannot be broken with a hammer, therefore the machine of which it is a part cannot be broken with a hammer." This is clearly fallacious, because many machines can be broken into their constituent parts without any of those parts being breakable.

This fallacy
In logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually an incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption. By accident or design, fallacies may exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor , or take advantage of social relationships between people...

 is often confused with the fallacy of hasty generalization
Hasty generalization
Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence essentially making a hasty conclusion without considering all of the variables...

, in which an unwarranted inference is made from a statement about a sample to a statement about the population from which it is drawn.

The fallacy of composition is the converse of the fallacy of division
Fallacy of division
A fallacy of division occurs when one reasons logically that something true of a thing must also be true of all or some of its parts.An example:# A Boeing 747 can fly unaided across the ocean.# A Boeing 747 has jet engines....



  1. Human cells are invisible to the naked eye.
  2. Humans are made up of human cells.
  3. Therefore, humans are invisible to the naked eye.

In Keynesian macroeconomics
Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of the whole economy. This includes a national, regional, or global economy...

, the "paradox of thrift
Paradox of thrift
The paradox of thrift is a paradox of economics, popularized by John Maynard Keynes, though it had been stated as early as 1714 in The Fable of the Bees, and similar sentiments date to antiquity...

" theory illustrates this fallacy: increasing saving (or "thrift") is obviously good for an individual, since it provides for retirement or a "rainy day," but if everyone saves more, Keynesian economists argue that it may cause a recession
In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity. During recessions, many macroeconomic indicators vary in a similar way...

 by reducing consumer
Consumption (economics)
Consumption is a common concept in economics, and gives rise to derived concepts such as consumer debt. Generally, consumption is defined in part by comparison to production. But the precise definition can vary because different schools of economists define production quite differently...

 demand. Other economic schools, such as the Austrian School
Austrian School
The Austrian School of economics is a heterodox school of economic thought. It advocates methodological individualism in interpreting economic developments , the theory that money is non-neutral, the theory that the capital structure of economies consists of heterogeneous goods that have...

, disagree.

Modo hoc fallacy

The modo hoc (or "just this") fallacy is the informal error of assessing meaning to an existent based on the constituent properties of its material makeup
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

 while omitting the matter's arrangement. For instance, metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism, also called ontological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, or just naturalism, is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences, i.e., those...

 states that while matter and motion
Motion (physics)
In physics, motion is a change in position of an object with respect to time. Change in action is the result of an unbalanced force. Motion is typically described in terms of velocity, acceleration, displacement and time . An object's velocity cannot change unless it is acted upon by a force, as...

 are all that comprise man
The term man is used for an adult human male . However, man is sometimes used to refer to humanity as a whole...

, it cannot be assumed that the characteristics inherent in the elements and physical reactions that make up man ultimately and solely define man's meaning; for, a cow which is alive and well and a cow which has been chopped up into meat are the same matter but it is obvious that the arrangement of that matter clarifies those different situational meanings.


Some properties are such that, if every part of a whole has the property, then the whole will, too. In such instances, the fallacy of composition does not apply. For example, if all parts of a chair are green, then it is usually acceptable to infer that the chair is green.Even such a seemingly clear-cut case may have exceptions, however, caused by structural color effects such as those seen in many bird feathers and butterfly wings. Similarly, if all parts of a table are wooden, it is acceptable to infer that the table is wooden. A property of all parts that can be ascribed to the whole is called an "expansive" property, according to Nelson Goodman
Nelson Goodman
Henry Nelson Goodman was an American philosopher, known for his work on counterfactuals, mereology, the problem of induction, irrealism and aesthetics.-Career:...

. For a property to be expansive, it must be absolute (as opposed to relative) and structure-independent (as opposed to structure dependent), according to Frans H. van Eemeren.

The meanings of absolutes do not imply a comparison, whereas the meanings of relatives do. E.g., being green or wooden are absolutes, whereas fast or heavy or cheap are relatives. We know whether something is green or wooden without reference to other things, whereas we do not know whether something is fast or heavy or cheap without implicitly comparing it to other things. Relative properties are never expansive. E.g., it does not follow that if all parts of a chair are cheap, then the chair is cheap.

Absolute properties shared by all constituent parts of a whole are expansive only if they are independent of the nature of the whole's structure or arrangement. That is, if it does not matter whether the whole is a summation or integration, an unordered collection or a cohesive whole, then the property is said to be independent. Consider the example, X is green. It does not matter whether X is a chair (an integration or coherent whole) or just a pile of twigs (a summation or unordered collection). Green is therefore an independent property. Now consider the example, X is rectangular. Rearrange a rectangular object—e.g., tear up the pages of a book—and it might not stay rectangular. Rectangularness is a structure dependent property and is therefore non-expansive.


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