The topic of syllogisms was at first hard to grasp. However, after reflecting on the information presented things started to come together and the concepts became clearer. Yet, the idea of the Four Term Fallacy continued to stump me. Not until I read this section many times did I finally understand the essentials of this fallacy.
In the reading Syllogistic Fallacy the author presents many fallacies, or qualities that would make a categorical syllogism false. One of these is the Four Term Fallacy. This particular fallacy is quite different from the rest in the sense that it is actually not a syllogism at all. The categorical syllogism is an argument with three terms, or three different classes; in the Four Term Fallacy there are four terms (hence the name). One might think that this fallacy would then be easy to spot, but, as the article suggests, the confusion comes from the same word being used in two different senses – and this is what caused my confusion as well.
While reading this passage all the other examples used to explain the corresponding fallacies made sense to me. However, when reading the example for the Four Term Fallacy the example appeared correct. I fell into the trap of the fallacy because of the ambiguity of the terms used. I was focusing too much on the form and missing the essence of the argument. It took me several minutes to comprehend that I needed to look at the details to notice the problem. This extra time ended up being beneficial, however, since I now understand that I must look at the meaning of the terms in addition to their position, type, and distribution to ensure the argument’s validity.