Reification (fallacy)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Reification (also known as concretism, or the fallacy of misplaced concreteness) is a fallacy of ambiguity, when an abstraction (abstract belief or hypothetical construct) is treated as if it were a concrete, real event, or physical entity. In other words, it is the error of treating as a "real thing" something which is not a real thing, but merely an idea. For example: if the phrase "holds another's affection", is taken literally, affection would be reified.

Another common manifestation is the confusion of a model with reality. Mathematical or simulation models may help understand a system or situation but real life always differs from the model. In extreme cases, the butterfly effect causes the model to rapidly diverge from what is occurring in real life.

Note that reification is generally accepted in literature and other forms of discourse where reified abstractions are understood to be intended metaphorically, but the use of reification in logical arguments is usually regarded as a fallacy. For example, "Justice is blind; the blind cannot read printed laws; therefore, to print laws cannot serve justice." In rhetoric, it may be sometimes difficult to determine if reification was used correctly or incorrectly.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Reification (fallacy)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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