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Type-Token Fallacy

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Description: The type-token fallacy is committed when a word can refer to either a type (representing an abstract descriptive concept) or a token (representing an object that instantiates a concept) is used in a way that makes it unclear which it refers to, the statement is ambiguous. This is a more specific form of the ambiguity fallacy.

Logical Form:

Person 1 is claiming Y.

Person 1 is a moron.

Therefore, Y is not true.

Example #1:

Salesperson: Toyota manufactures dozens of cars, so if you don't like this one you can see others.

Prospect: I would have guessed they made closer to millions of cars.

Explanation: The salesperson was referring to the different types of cars Toyota makes, not how many instances (or tokens) of each car were manufactured. By not specifically stating "types of cars," the statement was ambiguous and unnecessarily confusing.

Tip: As always, be as clear in your communication as possible and avoid any unnecessary confusion.


Wetzel, L. (2014). Types and tokens. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entriesypes-tokens/

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