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Anthropomorphism

(also known as: personification)

Description: The attributing of human characteristics and purposes to inanimate objects, animals, plants, or other natural phenomena, or to gods. This becomes a logical fallacy when used within the context of an argument.

Logical Form:

Non-human thing is described with human characteristics.

Claim X is made that requires the human characteristics of the thing.

Therefore, claim X is true.

Example #1:

How dare you murder those carrots!

Explanation: Murder is associated with humans and other sentient beings. In this example, the carrots are assumed to have the human characteristics that make murder "murder" and not just "killing" or "eating."

Example #2:

Akoni: The Polynesian fire goddess, Pele, sacrificed her own daughter in the volcano to bring peace to the islands. This is how I know she loves us.

Ubon: Aren't the gods and goddesses immortal?

Akoni: Err, yes.

Ubon: Then what happened to Pele's daughter after she was thrown in the volcano?

Akoni: She was reunited with Pele in the heavens.

Ubon: So why was this a sacrifice?

Explanation: The goddess, Pele, and her daughter are given the human quality of the frailty of life. Humans cannot possibly contemplate immortality and eternity, so the concept of "sacrifice" does not work in this scenario.

References:

anthropomorphism | religion. (n.d.). https://www.britannica.com/topic/anthropomorphism



Registered User Comments

Jacob
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 - 07:10:19 PM
I am only posting because I am excited that I found an example of Fallacy of Anthropomorphism in Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". MLK is not committing the fallacy--this is because he is smart--rather he is pointing out to another person the fallacy that time alone will not fix racism. If no one does anything then time will go by with no changes. You need people fighting the racist system over time to effect change. Maybe time changes things in a metaphorically: When a cut on your hand heals is it time that heals it or is it the cellular machinery of your body that heals it? Time heals all wounds. Cellular machinery heals all wounds. Both are true, just one is more metaphorical and the other is more literal. I think it's a fallacy here because the idea that time will solve racism all by itself will slow the fight against racism.

MLK
"...I had also hoped that the white moderate would reject the myth concerning time in relation to the struggle for freedom. I have just received a letter from a white brother in Texas. He writes: "All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but it is possible that you are in too great a religious hurry. It has taken Christianity almost two thousand years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth." Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood. Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity."

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Krista Neckles
Saturday, March 10, 2018 - 01:51:29 PM
Hello again Sir,

Please do not be bothered by my questions. You say that anthropomorphism "becomes a logical fallacy when used within the context of an argument". I have enjoyed a significant amount of television shows( such as the children's show Arthur, Berenstein Bears) where the animals are given human properties. Would simply watching these shows be fallacious. I know this question seems foolish. I want to ensure that I am precise with the usage of the fallacy.

Thank you,

Krista Neckles

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Saturday, March 10, 2018 - 01:53:37 PM
That is not a fallacy :)

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Krista Neckles
Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 03:04:58 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you for clarifying that I was not making a fallacy.

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