Smart Thinking

Dangers of Reification Fallacy

Care must be taken when equating models with the systems they represent as Reification Fallacy occurs when something abstract is treated as if it were real.

A Reification Fallacy occurs when something abstract is treated as if it were real.

Reification Fallacy and Economic Models

The model is not the economy

The ‘evidence speaks for itself’, ‘nature knows best’, are examples of Reification Fallacies.

Reification itself is not (necessarily) problematic (contrast reification and reification fallacy). IQ tests reify intelligence, in computer science, reification is widely used in conceptual modelling, in UML, Semantic Web, data reification and other programming concepts.

Logically Fallacious: The Ultimate Collection of Over 300 Logical Fallacies

Reification Fallacy in Enterprise Architecture

In Enterprise Architecture modelling, the architectural model is often an imperfect and partial representation of the underlying Information System. Considering the architectural model to be the Information System is a Reification Fallacy (that which is abstract, being treated as if it were real). This is troublesome when ‘the model becomes the deliverable’, or ‘too much faith is placed in the model’. The model will never capture the ‘infinite’ complexities to which the actual Information System will be subjected (not least in the ‘People’ dimensions, loaded with behavioural Anti Patterns and biases and in terms of unpredictable internal and external events).

Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution

This is easily verified by looking at economic models from the sub-prime era. An easy conclusion is that economic models are not economies.

An architect who tends towards a view that ‘the model is the system’, is seduced by this fallacy and therefore prone to unwelcome revelation. An information system may be a reification of an abstract model, but the abstract model is not the information system.

Further Reading on Logical Fallacies and Critical Thinking

By Steve Nimmons

Steve is a Certified European Engineer, Chartered Engineer, Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Royal Society of Arts, Linnean Society and Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He is an Electric Circle Patron of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, a Liveryman and Freeman of London and serves on numerous industry panels. He is a member of Chatham House, the Royal United Services Institute and the Chartered Institute of Journalists.