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v.). So, as observed by the author cited, the educated classes generally are inferior to the vulgar in this respect. For “ those men that take their instruction from the authority of books, and not from their own meditations, [are] as much below the condition of ignorant men as men endued with true science are above it. For between true science and erroneous doctrines, ignorance is in the middle (Id., chap. iv.). Hence no one should imagine himself free from this general infirmity of mankind; and he who most thoroughly realizes his weakness in this respect may, like Socrates, be justly pronounced the wisest of mankind. All are liable to it; and he who supposes he is not is simply unaware of his infirmity.

The nature of the Fallacy of Equivocation is obvious, and has been sufficiently explained. It remains, therefore, only to illustrate it by appropriate examples, and for this purpose the examples already given under other heads will —with one or two others—be sufficient to serve our purposes.


$ 192, EQUIVOCAL USE OF NONSENSICAL TERMS.-Some of the most important cases of this fallacy occur from the use of nonsensical terms. The very nature of these is that they

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cannot be used for any practical purpose, except by changing their meaning and thus giving them a definite sense; and hence, for the propositions in which they occur, significant propositions are always substituted. Thus, as we have seen, the term Sovereignty varies essentially in meaning, as used in the several doctrines of Personal Sovereignty, Corporate Sovereignty, the Sovereignty of the People or State, and the Sovereignty of Right or the Law; all of which different senses of the term are inconsistent with each other, and all, except the first, in their direct sense, without definite signification, or, in other words, nonsensical. Yet the term is habitually used by political writers without distinguishing the sense in which it is used, or without attempting to give it any definite signification. But in the practical application of the doctrine of Sovereignty the term is invariably used as equivalent to such definite conclusions as the occasions of the writer may require, or as a premise from which such conclusions may be deduced; and thus the most extravagant doctrines are apparently established. Of which, as we have seen, a striking example is furnished by Prof. Von Holst ($ 175); and others equally appropriate may be easily collected from almost any work touching the subject.

The same observation will apply to the

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theory of general utility, or Utilitarianism, and also to the notions that the will of the government is the united will of the people ; that the State is an Organism ; that it is founded on compact, etc.; all of which are, in their direct sense, in themselves nonsensical, and therefore innocuous, but are habitually used as premises to establish all sorts of extravagant conclusions.

$ 193. OF EQUIVOCATION GENERALLY.The above will suffice for examples of equivocations consisting in giving significance to nonsensical terms. In illustrating other equi ocations, the only embarrassment consists in the number of examples that crowd upon our attention; but the following may be sufficient.

$ 194. ARGUMENT OF AUSTIN.-One of the most striking of these is furnished us by the argument of Austin in support of his famous position that judicial decisions are in their essential nature laws or statutes, and the judges, in fact, legislators; and another by his equally remarkable position that “ Custom does not constitute part of the law"; both of which rest upon the equivocal use of the ambiguous term

Law"; which may denote either a law or statute (lex), or the Law (Jus).

$ 195. AN ARGUMENT OF BAIN.–An extremely effective example of this fallacy is also

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furnished by Mr. Bain in his statement of the doctrine of Utility. It consists in using the term partyin the double sense of a natural and of a corporate person. Utility, he says, is

, the tendency of actions to promote the happiness and prevent the misery of the party under consideration; which party is usually the community in which one's lot is cast."

$ 196, AN ARGUMENT ATTRIBUTED TO PROFESSOR HUXLEY.-Still another example is presented by an argument attributed to Professor Huxley. It consists in the equivocal use of the term “ power,” which is commonly used in two senses, namely, as denoting actual power, or might, and as denoting rightful, or jural, power, or right. The argument is as follows:

The power of the State may be defined as the resultant of all the social forces within a definite area.

It follows, says Professor Huxley, with characteristic logical thoroughness, that no limit is or can be set to State interference" (A Plea for Liberty, Donisthorpe).

This fallacy is common to all the Austinian school of jurists, and, indeed, constitutes the common fundamental infirmity of all their disquisitions. These jurists, according to their theory, have, indeed, no right to use the term in any but the former sense; but, as we have

1 Bentham is guilty of the same fallacy (Principles of Legis. lation).

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seen, after establishing their conclusions they habitually use it as though equivalent to right, in the proper sense-a notion that can properly have no place in their system.

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