Type: Informal Fallacy


The object O has the property P.
Therefore, all of the parts of O have the property P.
(Where the property P is one which does not distribute from a whole to its parts.)


The universe has existed for fifteen billion years.
The universe is made out of molecules.
Therefore, each of the molecules in the universe has existed for fifteen billion years.


People are made out of atoms.
People are visible.
Therefore, atoms are visible.


Some properties are such that, if a whole object has the property, then all of its parts will, too—for example, invisibility. However, not all properties are like this—for instance, visibility. Let's call a property which distributes from a whole object to each of its parts a "dissective" property, using Nelson Goodman's term. If P is a dissective property, then the argument form above is validating, by definition of what such a property is. However, if P is not dissective, then the argument form is non-validating, and any argument of that form commits the fallacy of Division.

Sibling Fallacy: Composition


Thomas Mautner (Editor), A Dictionary of Philosophy (Blackwell, 1996).