Part of the Applied Logic Series book series (APLS, volume 1)


Equivocation (from the Latin aequi/vocare, to speak on both sides) is a fallacy that, on the surface, appears to be relatively straightforward, and described in many of the logic textbooks, and other standard sources. Many of these sources follow the Aristotelian definition of the fallacy, which, as we saw in Chapter 1, seems fairly clear. The definition of Alonzo Church in Runes’ Dictionary of Philosophy [1964, p. 96] seems to capture the gist of the Aristotelian conception fairly well.


Critical Discussion Ambiguous Word Saving Bank Brick Wall Ambiguous Term 
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  1. 1.
    For example, Irving M. Copi, Introduction to Logic, 7th ed., p. 114. Macmillan, New York, 1986.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In the 1980 edition, there are two separate fallacies of ambiguity, one called ‘semantical ambiguity’ and one called ‘syntactical ambiguity’ . In the 1987 (second) edition, the one ‘fallacy of ambiguity’ is meant to cover both semantic and synthetic ambiguity.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Robinson [1941]—see below—cites a kind of ambiguity he calls misunderstanding, where the hearer takes what the speaker says in a different way than the speaker intended.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    William of Sherwood, Introduction to Logic, trans. and ed. Norman Kretzmann, p. 136.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    This proposal has been developed in a formal structure of dialogue by Mackenzie [1988].Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Walton [1987, pp. 125—130].Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Walton [1995].Google Scholar
  8. 8.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of WinnipegCanada

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