Composition is invalidly inferring the quality of the whole from the quality of the parts.


1) Hydrogen and oxygen are dry, so water is dry.

2) My organs are not conscious, so I am not conscious.

3) Every player on the team is great, so the team is great.

4) My cells are not free, so I am not free.

5) If we assume everything in the universe has a cause, then the universe itself has a cause.


It is important to remember that it is sometimes valid to infer the quality of the whole from the quality of the parts. For example, "Every brick in the wall is white, so the wall is white." Assuming there are only bricks in the wall, this is a good argument.

Since these are informal fallacies, you should be sensitive to each case and how the parts and whole are connected in each case.

How to avoid

Be careful when inferring the qualities of the whole from the qualities of the parts. Be sensitive to each case and how the parts and whole are connected. Sometimes the whole is more than its parts, sometimes it is not. Sometimes it is debatable.


  1. If the parts are physical, must the whole be physical?
  2. Create some examples of the composition fallacy.


  1. This is a difficult and controversial question. Some say yes. They argue the mind is composed of neurons, but the mind itself is not physicals. Some dualists argue this is why you can weigh the brain, but not your mind/thoughts. Others disagree and argue the mind must be physical even if we do not yet understand how.
  2. Answers will vary.