On Sophistical Refutations
musical and unmusical, but that this Coriscus is musical and this
Coriscus unmusical. But this will not do, for to say 'this Coriscus is
unmusical', or 'musical', and to say 'this Coriscus' is so, is to
use the same expression: and this he is both affirming and denying
at once. 'But perhaps they do not mean the same.' Well, nor did the
simple name in the former case: so where is the difference? If,
however, he is to ascribe to the one person the simple title
'Coriscus', while to the other he is to add the prefix 'one' or
'this', he commits an absurdity: for the latter is no more
applicable to the one than to the other: for to whichever he adds
it, it makes no difference.
All the same, since if a man does not distinguish the senses of an
amphiboly, it is not clear whether he has been confuted or has not
been confuted, and since in arguments the right to distinguish them is
granted, it is evident that to grant the question simply without
drawing any distinction is a mistake, so that, even if not the man
himself, at any rate his argument looks as though it had been refuted.
It often happens, however, that, though they see the amphiboly, people
hesitate to draw such distinctions, because of the dense crowd of
persons who propose questions of the kind, in order that they may
not be thought to be obstructionists at every turn: then, though
they would never have supposed that that was the point on which the
argument turned, they often find themselves faced by a paradox.
Accordingly, since the right of drawing the distinction is granted,
one should not hesitate, as has been said before.
If people never made two questions into one question, the fallacy
that turns upon ambiguity and amphiboly would not have existed either,
but either genuine refutation or none. For what is the difference
between asking 'Are Callias and Themistocles musical?' and what one
might have asked if they, being different, had had one name? For if
the term applied means more than one thing, he has asked more than one
question. If then it be not right to demand simply to be given a