Consider all. Test All. Hold on to the good.

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A general rule is applied when circumstances suggest that an exception to the rule should apply. “The fallacy of accident occurs when we suppose that what is true of a term used in a relatively indeterminate or unconditioned sense, is true of the term when used in a relaticely determinate or conditioned sense. The Latin name of the fallacy is, Argumentum a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid.” (Davies, A Textbook of Logic, p. 520.)

  1. The law says that you should not travel faster than 50 kph, thus even though your father could not breathe, you should not have travelled faster than 50 kph.
  2. It is good to return things you have borrowed. Therefore, you should return this automatic rifle from the madman you borrowed it from. (Adapted from Plato's Republic, Book I).

Identify the generalization in question and show that it is not a universal generalization. Then show that the circumstances of this case suggest that the generalization ought not to apply.


"This fallacy arises from the false assumption that whatever is predicable of a subject (usually the middle term) is predicable of its accident (the minor term), and in the same sense; or that whatever is predicable of a term understood in one aspect (for example, specifically or concretely) is predicable of the same term understood in another aspect (for example, generically or abstractly) or vice versa." (Joseph & McGlinn, The Trivium, p. 193)