Debts, Oligarchies, and Holisms: Deconstructing the Fallacy of Composition

Maurice A. Finocchiaro


This is a critical appreciation of Govier’s 2006 ISSA keynote address on the fallacy of composition, and of economists’ writings on this fallacy in economics. I argue that the “fallacy of composition” is a problematical concept, because it does not denote a distinctive kind of argument but rather a plurality, and does not constitute a distinctive kind of error, but rather reduces to oversimplification in arguing from micro to macro. Finally, I propose further testing of this claim based on examples involving public vs. private debt in economics; oligarchic tendencies in politics, and the emergence of societal wholes in sociology.

Full Text:



ISSN: 0824-2577