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Erkenntnis

, Volume 79, Issue 5, pp 1077–1097 | Cite as

Seven Misconceptions About the Mereological Fallacy: A Compilation for the Perplexed

  • Harry SmitEmail author
  • Peter M. S. Hacker
Original Article

Abstract

If someone commits the mereological fallacy, then he ascribes psychological predicates to parts of an animal that apply only to the (behaving) animal as a whole. This incoherence is not strictly speaking a fallacy, i.e. an invalid argument, since it is not an argument but an illicit predication. However, it leads to invalid inferences and arguments, and so can loosely be called a fallacy. However, discussions of this particular illicit predication, the mereological fallacy, show that it is often misunderstood. Many misunderstandings concern the use of this illicit predication in the course of discussions of understanding the mind/body problem. Our aim here is to provide an accessible overview through discussing common misconceptions of the fallacy. We also discuss how conceptual investigations of the relation between living organisms and their parts fit within the framework of modern evolutionary theory, i.e. inclusive fitness theory.

Keywords

Multicellular Organism Nonverbal Behaviour Inclusive Fitness Conceptual Investigation Teleological Explanation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank two reviewers for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Faculty of Psychology and NeuroscienceMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.St John’s CollegeOxfordUK

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