21 October 2007

If we wanted to do something about global warming, we would.

We are committing the fallacy of composition when we argue from the premise that every man can decide how he will act to the conclusion that the human race can decide how it will act (for example, with regard to the rate of increase of population or the choice between war and peace).... This, or a similar fallacy, is committed whenever we assume, without adequate reason, that we can speak about groups in the same ways in which we can speak about their members, that we can spedak of a nation having a will or interests.... Of course, it may be possible to do this; there may be predicates applicable (in the same sense) to a group and to his members, but this cannot be assumed without evidence. It may also be possible to introduce a different but useful sense in which a predicate normally applied to individuals may be applied to a group; but if so, the new sense must be explained.
J.L. Mackie, "Fallacie," p. 173, as quoted in Hardin, Collective Action (1982), p.1.

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