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Incomplete Volition Fallacy

Updated Jun 10, 2023

The Incomplete Volition Fallacy: A Closer Look at Faulty Reasoning


In the world of logical reasoning, fallacies can sometimes lead us astray, causing flawed arguments and erroneous conclusions. One such fallacy is the Incomplete Volition Fallacy, a cognitive bias that occurs when someone wrongly assumes incomplete information about an individual's desires or intentions, resulting in faulty reasoning. In this article, we will delve deeper into this fallacy, explore its implications, and provide examples to help you recognize it in everyday discussions.

Understanding the Incomplete Volition Fallacy

The Incomplete Volition Fallacy, also known as the Mind Reading Fallacy or the Mind-Reading Error, arises when one person assumes they know another person's thoughts, desires, or intentions without sufficient evidence. This fallacy occurs when there is an information gap, leading to an inaccurate interpretation of someone's motivations or goals.

Examples of the Incomplete Volition Fallacy

To better understand this fallacy, let's consider a few examples:

Example 1: Assuming political motives without evidence

Suppose during a heated political debate, Person A accuses Person B of supporting a particular policy due to personal gain. Person A assumes they know Person B's motivations without any concrete evidence. This assumption falls into the Incomplete Volition Fallacy, as Person A is assigning motives based on incomplete information.

Example 2: Misinterpreting a colleague's actions

Imagine you work in a team, and a colleague, John, is consistently late for meetings. Instead of considering potential reasons for John's tardiness, a co-worker assumes John is lazy or disrespectful. This assumption neglects any underlying factors that may contribute to John's behavior, such as personal circumstances or conflicting responsibilities. The co-worker commits the Incomplete Volition Fallacy by assuming they know John's intentions without considering all possible explanations.

Implications of the Incomplete Volition Fallacy

The Incomplete Volition Fallacy can have significant implications in both personal and professional settings. By assuming incomplete volition, we risk misjudging others, damaging relationships, and perpetuating misunderstandings. It can hinder effective communication and prevent the resolution of conflicts by basing conclusions on faulty reasoning.

Avoiding the Incomplete Volition Fallacy

To avoid falling into the Incomplete Volition Fallacy, it is crucial to embrace open-mindedness, empathy, and critical thinking. Here are a few strategies to help you navigate this fallacy:

1. Seek clarification

When faced with incomplete information about someone's intentions, ask open-ended questions to gain a deeper understanding. By engaging in respectful dialogue, you can bridge the information gap and prevent assumptions based on inadequate evidence.

2. Consider alternative explanations

Instead of jumping to conclusions, consider multiple perspectives and possible motivations. Recognize that people are complex, and their actions may have underlying reasons that are not immediately apparent. By exploring alternative explanations, you can avoid the trap of assuming incomplete volition.

3. Look for supporting evidence

Before making assumptions about someone's intentions, search for concrete evidence or seek additional information. Relying on facts rather than assumptions will help you make more informed judgments.


The Incomplete Volition Fallacy serves as a reminder that assuming incomplete information about someone's desires or intentions can lead to flawed reasoning. By recognizing this fallacy and adopting strategies to avoid it, we can foster better communication, build stronger relationships, and make more accurate judgments. So, the next time you find yourself in a discussion, remember to embrace open-mindedness and seek a complete understanding before drawing any conclusions.

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