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Equivocation

The fallacy of equivocation occurs when a key term or phrase in an argument is used in an ambiguous way, with one meaning in one portion of the argument and then another meaning in another portion of the argument.

Examples:

    1. I have the right to watch "The Real World."  Therefore it's right for me to watch the show.  So, I think I'll watch this "Real World" marathon tonight instead of studying for my exam.
    2. The laws imply lawgivers. There are laws in nature. Therefore there must be a cosmic lawgiver.
    3. God: "One million years to me is a second."  Man: "What about one million dollars, my Lord?" God: "A penny." Man: "May my Lord give me a penny?" God: "No problem, just a second."
    4. Noisy children are a real headache. Two aspirin will make a headache go away. Therefore, two aspirin will make noisy children go away.
    5. A warm beer is better than a cold beer. After all, nothing is better than a cold beer, and a warm beer is better than nothing.
    6. Sure philosophy helps you argue better, but do we really need to encourage people to argue? There's enough hostility in this world.
    7. I don't see how you can say you're an ethical person. It's so hard to get you to do anything; your work ethic is so bad
    8. From Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass: "You couldn't have it if you didn't want it," the Queen said. "The rule is jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today." "It must come to jam today," Alice objected. "No, it can't," said the Queen. "It's jam every other day: today isn't any other day, you know."
    9. Philosophy is supposed to stand on neutral ground. But most philosophers argue for very definite conclusions. This is hardly standing on neutral ground. Shouldn't we conclude that most philosophers aren't doing philosophy?
    10. Sarah was put in classes for the exceptional student. But i discovered that despite her age she could hardly read. Surely she was put in these classes by error.