Fallacy of Composition, composition fallacy, faulty induction or exception fallacy - is a type of argument when one claims that if something is true for the part then that is true for the whole or the group too.

This fallacy is related to the fallacy of hasty generalization, in which an unwarranted inference is made from a statement about a sample to a statement about the population from which it is drawn. The Fallacy of Composition is the converse of the Fallacy of Division.

Simple example of the Fallacy of Composition, here of ignoring emergence kind:

No atoms are alive. Therefore, nothing made of atoms is alive

There could several causes for this fallacy.

Competition in the group

This fallacy can occurs when there is a competition in the group or there is Zero-Sum Game conditions, where if one party in the profit, then another at a loss.

Simple Example of Fallacy of Composition:

If one runner runs faster he will win the race and get the prize. So, if all runners run faster they all get the prize.

Another Example

If someone stands up out of their seat at a concert, they can see better. Therefore, if everyone stands up, they can all see better.

Same scale, but whole is not homogeneous

There is a possibility that the whole part contains other kinds of parts which have different properties, and those will impact on properties of the whole thing.

This tire is made of rubber, therefore the vehicle of which it is a part is also made of rubber.

Ignoring Emergence

Emergence is where the whole possesses properties not present in any of the parts. or parts making a whole when grouped change their properties.

The example of this type of Compositional Fallacy:

Steel is havier then water, this ship will get drawn

Ship is not drawning because it has a special shape to keep it afloat. The same can be said about airplanes and materials they are made of.

Planes can not fly, alluminium they are maid of is havier than air, you know.

Mixup with Hasty Generalization

In the Hasty Generalization Example below it’s not enough to have a right business concept, something else might be needed too. We see it because of “Some”, “can” and “everyone will”

Some people can become millionaires with the right business concept. Therefore, if everyone has the right business concept, everyone will become a millionaire.

Fallacy of Composition in Economy

Paradox of Saving (paradox of thrift in Keynesian economics) - is a classic example of the fallacy of composition. If one individual can save more money by spending less, probably then society and an entire economy can save money the same way, by spending less?

BUT: If everyone reduced spending, then the demand for products and services would decline. As a result, businesses revenue will drop and they might lower wages or lay off individuals. People would have less income and would save even less.

In the free rider problem, one person can benefit by failing to pay when riding on a train; but when there are many “free riders”, eventually there will be no “ride” for anyone at all.

In a tragedy of the commons, a person can benefit by consuming a larger share of a common, shared resource such as fish from the sea; but if too many individuals seek to consume more, they can destroy the resource if it’s non-renewable.

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