<logic, anphiboly, dialectics, semantics, language, euristic>, the presence of two or more distinct meanings for a single word or expression. In itself, ambiguity is a common, harmless, and often amusing feature of ordinary language. When unnoticed in the context of otherwise careful reasoning, however, it can lead to one of several informal fallacies. Example:"I'll give you a ring tomorrow." could signify either the promise of a gift of jewelry or merely an intention to telephone. Note the difference between ambiguity and vagueness. Recommended Reading: Israel Scheffler, Beyond the Letter: A Philosophical Inquiry into Ambiquity, Vagueness and Metaphor in Language (Routledge, 1981); Douglas Walton, Fallacies Arising from Ambiguity (Kluwer, 1996).

[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]


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Nearby terms: alternative occurrence « Althusser Louis « altruism « ambiguity » Amdahl's Law » amoral » amphiboly