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Denying a Conjunct

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Description: A formal fallacy in which the first premise states that at least one of the two conjuncts (antecedent and consequent) is false and concludes that the other conjunct must be true.

Logical Form:

Not both P and Q.

Not P.

Therefore, Q.

 

Not both P and Q.

Not Q.

Therefore, P.

Example #1:

I am not both a moron and an idiot.

I am not a moron.

Therefore, I am an idiot.

Explanation:  I might be an idiot, but the truth of both premises do not guarantee that I am; therefore, this argument is invalid -- the form of this formal argument is invalid.  Being “not both” a moron and an idiot, only means that if I am not one of the two, I am simply not one of the two -- we cannot logically conclude that I am the other.

Example #2:

I am not both a Christian and a Satanist.

I am not a Satanist.

Therefore, I am a Christian.

Explanation:  The truth of both premises do not guarantee that I am a Christian; therefore, this argument is invalid -- the form of this formal argument is invalid.  Being “not both” a Satanist and a Christian, only means that if I am not one of the two, I am simply not one of the two -- we cannot logically conclude that I am the other.

Exception: None.

References:

Kiersky, J. H., & Caste, N. J. (1995). Thinking Critically: Techniques for Logical Reasoning. West Publishing Company.



Registered User Comments

Wolfgang P
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 06:43:29 PM
'Not both': "only means that if I am not one of the two, I am simply not one of the two" Isn't this a tautology? 'If X then X'?

I'd say it means "if I AM one of the two, I am NOT the other one as well" (but I could be neither).

(BTW, I love your work and bought the book.)

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 06:11:24 AM
It is language meant to stress the fact. Such as, "If I say I am not a loser, it only means that I am not a loser. I still can be a moron."

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