Definitions for ignoratio elenchiˌɪg nəˈreɪ ʃiˌoʊ ɪˈlɛŋ kaɪ, -ki

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  1. ignoratio elenchi(noun)

    the logical fallacy of supposing that an argument proving an irrelevant point has proved the point at issue

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  1. Ignoratio elenchi

    Ignoratio elenchi, also known as irrelevant conclusion, is the informal fallacy of presenting an argument that may or may not be logically valid, but fails nonetheless to address the issue in question. Ignoratio elenchi falls into the broad class of relevance fallacies. It is one of the fallacies identified by Aristotle in his Organon. In a broader sense he asserted that all fallacies are a form of ignoratio elenchi. The phrase ignoratio elenchi is Latin meaning "an ignoring of a refutation". Here elenchi is the genitive singular of the Latin noun elenchus, which is from the Greek ἔλεγχος elenchos, meaning an argument of disproof or refutation. The translation in English of the Latin expression has varied somewhat. Hamblin proposed "misconception of refutation" or "ignorance of refutation" as a literal translation, Oesterle preferred "ignoring the issue", Irving Copi, Christopher Tindale and others used "irrelevant conclusion". An example might be a situation where A and B are debating whether the law permits A to do something. If A attempts to support his position with an argument that the law ought to allow him to do the thing in question, then he is guilty of ignoratio elenchi. Dr Johnson's unique "refutation" of Bishop Berkeley's immaterialism, his claim that matter did not actually exist but only seemed to exist, has been described as Ignoratio elenchi: during a conversation with Boswell, Johnson powerfully kicked a nearby stone and proclaimed of Berkeley's theory, "I refute it thus!"


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