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Socratic Fallacy


Socratic Fallacy

The Socratic fallacy is one of the many smokescreens that are used to cover the fact that the reasoning is based on one of the three fallacies of Agrippa's trilemma. Whenever a logical fallacy is committed, the fallacy has its roots in Agrippa's trilemma. All human thought (without Divine revelation) is based on one of three unhappy possibilities. These three possibilities are infinite regress, circular reasoning, or axiomatic thinking. This problem is known as Agrippa's trilemma. Some have claimed that only logic and math can be known without Divine revelation; however, that is not true. There is no reason to trust either logic or math without Divine revelation. Science is also limited to the pragmatic because of the weakness on human reasoning, which is known as Agrippa's trilemma. This is a fallacy that superimposes another level of fallacy on top or one or more of the three fallacies of Agrippa's trilemma.

The Socratic fallacy occurs when a false claim is made that terms are required to be defined before examples of those terms can be given. This is not to say that it isn't vital that everyone is using the same definition of a given term.

Examples of the Socratic Fallacy

Rocky: "God speaks to me through my soul, my innermost mind."

Sandy: "You can't speak of either the soul or the mind until you can give a comprehensive definition."

The problem is one of circularity. We have to know enough to give a comprehensive definition before we can know anything. We know in part. Often, we don't know enough to really define a matter, but God reveals by degrees in unfolding revelation. This is true of natural things and of spiritual things. If we apply this logic to everything, then we can't talk about anything until we know everything about everything. However, when challenged, Sandy is likely to commit a special pleading fallacy to make exceptions for the things that he knows something about.

Not the Socratic Fallacy

Rocky: "Our point of disagreement is over the basis of thought. When we reason beyond physical observation, what is the valid way to do this. You believe that assumptions are valid. I believe that Divine revelation is valid."

Sandy: "Wait a minute. Define the word, assumption." (This is not the socratic fallacy.)

Rocky: "Made-up stuff. An assumption is a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof. It is something that cannot be verified or is not verified before accepting it as true or accepting it as certain to happen."

It's vital to know what an assumption is since college classes are often creating another broad definition for the word that includes testable, verifiable things. They mix the unverifiable assumptions that are true assumptions with tested and testable things, and then they imply that there is no difference. You will find an explanation of the problem with assumptions here, using an example from Berkeley.

Rocky: "You use the word, "science," but from the context, it seems like you are mixing a process that doesn't allow verification with another process that does allow verification and calling both of them science. Can you define the term as you understand it?"

Sandy: "Science is science. There are not different kinds of science. Science means a process of observation and experimentation plus a body of knowledge that includes all the traditionally held assumptions and opinions."

Rocky: "OK. I accept your definition for science and will try to use the word that way for our conversation, but I want to talk about what I will call "historical science," which is a subset of what you are defining as "science." Historical science, as I am defining it, consists of a forensic science that tries to look at things of the past that are unverifiable and untestable by without Divine revelation. Historical science operates in one of two ways. It can work by observing things in the present and using untestable assumptions to make up stories (hypothesis/theories) about what possibly might have happened in the past. It can also work by observing things in the present and using Divine revelation through the Bible to get the eye-witness account; from there it may make some loosely-held stories (hypothesis/theories) about what possibly might have happened in the past."

Last updated: Sep, 2014

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Toons & Vids



Logical Fallacy of Ambiguity

Logical Fallacy of the Barnum Effect / P. T. Barnum Effect / The Fallacy of Personal Validation / The Forer Effect

Logical Fallacy of Ambiguous Assertion

Logical Fallacy of Innuendo

Sly Suggestion Fallacy

Syntactic Ambiguity Fallacy / Structural Ambiguity / Grammatical Ambiguity / Amphiboly / Semantic Ambiguity / Semantical Ambiguity Fallacy

The Logical Fallacy Lexical Ambiguity


Shingle Speech

Use-Mention Error / UME

Double Entendre

Logical Fallacy of Misuse of Etymology

Logical Fallacy of Garden Path Ambiguity

Squinting Modifier Fallacy

Quantifier Fallacy / Quantifier Shift Fallacy

Illicit Observation Fallacy

Metaphorical Ambiguity Fallacy


Logical Fallacy of Equivocation / Bait and Switch / Amphiboly / Semantic Ambiguity / Type-Token Ambiguity / Vagueness

Redefinition Fallacy

Middle Puzzle Part Fallacy

Idiosyncratic Language Fallacy

Type-Token Ambiguity Fallacy

Fallacy of Modal Logic / Modal Scope Fallacy / Misconditionalization

Modal Fallacy / Modal Scope Fallacy

Scope Fallacy

Ambiguous Middle / Ambiguous Middle Term

Logical Fallacy of Hypnotic Bait and Switch

Definist Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Defining a Word in Terms of Itself

Socratic Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Defining Terms Too Broadly

Logical Fallacy of Defining Terms Too Narrowly

Logical Fallacy of Failure to Elucidate

Logical Fallacy of Persuasive Definition / Appeal to Definition / Appeal to the Dictionary / Definist Fallacy (type of) / Rhetorical Definition

Logical Fallacy of Composition / Exception Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Division / False Division / Ecological Fallacy / Ecological Inference Fallacy

Etymological Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Nominalization, Misnomer, Labeling

Logical Fallacy of Inference from a Label

Pigeonholing Fallacy / Ahistoric Fallacy

Category Mistake / Category Error

Logical Fallacy of the Conjunction Effect / Conjunction Fallacy

Disjunction Fallacy

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Fast Talking / Information Overload / Bang-Bang-Bang

Logical Fallacy of Proof by Verbosity / Argumentum Verbosium

Logical Fallacy of Argument by Gibberish / Bafflement / Prestigious Jargon

Logical Fallacy of Confusing Contradiction with Contrariety

Logical Fallacy of Ambiguous Collective / Type-Token Ambiguity

Conceptual Fallacy

Anti-Concreteness Mentality Fallacy / Attributing Abstractness to the Concrete / Mistaking an Entity for a Theory / Mistaking Reality for an Assumptions

Butterfly Logic

The Logical Fallacy of Process-Product Ambiguity / Act-Object Ambiguity



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