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Amphiboly

An amphiboly occurs when the construction of a sentence allows it to have two different meanings.

Examples
  1. Last night I shot a burglar in my pajamas.
  2. The Oracle of Delphi told Croseus that if he pursued the war he would destroy a mighty kingdom. (What the Oracle did not mention was that the kingdom he destroyed would be his own. Adapted from Heroditus, The Histories.)
  3. Save soap and waste paper. (From Copi, p. 115)
Critique
Identify the ambiguous phrase and show the two possible interpretations.

About Stephen Downes

Many kudos are owed to Stephen Downes, the logician who originally authored this list of fallacies and made it freely available on the Web. His basic structure remains. A mirror of Downes’ original site can be found here.