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Re: ad hominem [[GS - General Semantics]]

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Subject: Re: ad hominem
Author:  tob@world.std.com (Tom Breton) at smtp
Date:    8/6/1995 10:24 PM

mcpherso@lumina.ucsd.edu (John McPherson) writes:
>   In an attempt to relate this thread back to g.s. ...
>   It might be interesting and insightful to re-formulate the
> "classical fallacies" in terms of general semantics.  Has anyone 
> done this yet for the common ones?


The classical fallacies are divided into ~Fallacies in dictione~ and 

Equivocation -- using a word in different senses in the same argument -- 
is an easy hit; it's pretty much category shifting. Composition and 
Division (Taking {collectively,seperately} what should be taken 
{seperately,collectively}) could be called category shifts too, I 

Figure of speech (wrongly interpreting a word because of its similarity 
in structure to another word) could be related to GS, confusing the map 
with the territory.

I don't see how Amphibology (employing a sentence or phrase whose 
structure makes its meaning ambiguous) would fit.

>   For instance, "Argumentum Ad Hominem" would appear to be an 
> attempt to encourage people to identify (equate) maps about a 
> person with maps made by the person about something else.
> (I'm sure a better re-formulation can be made, but you get the 
> idea.)

That's an interesting way of putting it. Perhaps most of the ~Ignoratio 
Elenchi~ (failure to deal with the point at issue) fallacies could be 
related as attempts to equate some other sort of map with the 
proposition at hand.

>   In this way, I'd expect that g.s. could be used to simplify
> and unify these fallacies, and perhaps develop a useful general 
> tool which we can readily apply.
>   Thoughts?