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From Collins, If you are mindful of something, you think about it and consider it when taking action.

When I am writing, I am always mindful of committing logical fallacies (e.g., red herring, hasty generalization, post hoc, straw man, false dichotomy, and appeal to authority).

This sentence is ambiguous. What I am trying to say is that when I write, I am careful not to commit the logical fallacies in my arguments. While I can say it this way, trying to use "mindful of" makes things confusing.

Does "mindful of committing logical fallacies" mean (a) mindful that I don't commit fallacy or (b) mindful that I do commit fallacy?

One answer in this post Be mindful of using vs be mindful of in ELU - says "Be mindful of using verbs in your sentences" tells you that you should be careful to make sure you include verbs in your sentences.

As per that logic, "mindful of committing logical fallacies" in my original sentence means that I am mindful that I do commit fallacies.

Should I write: "mindful of not committing logical fallacies?"

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Being "mindful" means simply that you keep something in mind. The context and common sense would mean that if you are "mindful of committing logical fallacies" you are keeping them in mind so that you can avoid them.

For example, a British employment lawyer says that "Businesses need to be mindful of falling foul of sex discrimination rules". He does not mean, and nobody thinks that he means, that businesses should strive to get in trouble for sex discrimination ... "Please mind the gap" does not mean you should aim to step into the gap

You could say either "... of committing..." or "... of not committing...", and it will be understood the same way: You try to avoid fallacies.

A sentence like that would be simpler and clearer: "I try to avoid fallacies"

  • 2
    A British employment lawyer says that "Businesses need to be mindful of falling foul of sex discrimination rules". He does not mean, and nobody thinks that he means, that businesses should strive to get in trouble for sex discrimination. – Michael Harvey Oct 17 at 21:47
  • Although I indeed would have understood what was meant to be said, it seems strange to me that adding/removing a "not" in a sentence doesn't inverse its meaning. – Laurent S. Oct 18 at 8:10
  • @LaurentS. That very much depends on the location of the not. If you had used "not being mindful", the meaning would have inverted. Note also that if the context does not make good/bad inherently clear, that your example would work, e.g. "be mindful to not drive a green car" vs "be mindful to drive a green car". It just so happens that when the good/bad is contextually clear, people will let lheir contextual understanding override the particular negation there. – Flater Oct 18 at 10:12
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    Be mindful of [gerund] can mean either try to do it, or try not to do it, the context removes ambiguity. – Michael Harvey Oct 18 at 11:52
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    "Please mind the gap" does not mean you should aim to step into the gap :) – felipa Oct 18 at 13:25
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Either works, although the implied meaning is different. The first suggests you pay attention to any logical fallacies you might make (presumably, in order to avoid them). The second suggests that you pay attention not to make the logical fallacies in the first place.

It's two ways to say the same thing. Because the word "commit" is slightly ambiguous in this context, I would be more inclined to phrase the first sentence as I did above:

I am always mindful of any logical fallacies I might make.

Of course, in a different context, this kind of ambiguity might be intentional (for satirical effect):

A: As a government official with a sterling reputation, I have to be mindful of committing any crimes.
B: So you can avoid doing anything illegal?
A: No -- so I can make sure to destroy the evidence!

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    Upvoted for the instructively funny joke. It shows that "being mindful" does not itself express an expected attitude toward its object. And given that, it is almost always an error (wasted verbosity) to say or write "be mindful of not ...". – Jeff Y Oct 18 at 14:32
  • This is a great answer, thanks Andrew. And I agree with Jeff Y, that example is very constructive. – AIQ Oct 18 at 23:17
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mindful of doing

means

careful to do

So what you want is

When I write, I am always mindful of not committing logical fallacies

I have to say that I find the construction verbose and a bit convoluted although admittedly idiomatic.

When writing, I always strive to avoid logical fallacies.

But that is rhetoric, not grammar.

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    The OED definition of mindful is "conscious or aware of something", so couldn't something like "Be mindful of falling off the edge" or just "Mind the edge" be interpreted contextually as a warning and not a suggestion to "Be careful to fall off the edge"? – Blackhawk Oct 18 at 20:52
  • At least in my experience, idiomatic usage in the U.S. of "mindful of gerund" is used almost exclusively in a positive sense. "I am mindful of being there" is almost invariably used in the sense of "I shall be careful to be there" rather than of "I shall be careful not to be there." This may conflict with dictionary definitions, but it reflects current dominant usage in the U.S. – Jeff Morrow Oct 19 at 1:34
  • Would these be incorrect? "Be mindful of acting in anger" or "Be mindful of your emotions". "Be ever mindful of your limitations" or "Be mindful of the dangers you are sure to encounter". These seem perfectly natural to me, and I would be curious as to whether you would view these as non-idiomatic, but technically correct or whether there might be an alternate interpretation. – Blackhawk Oct 21 at 16:30
  • (Upon introspection, I realize that my expectations for "mindful of" probably stem from the flowery language of century(ies)-old literature, which probably isn't what you mean when you say "idiomatic usage in the U.S.") – Blackhawk Oct 21 at 16:54
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Either looks awkward to me, partly because each expresses observation rather than agency; to be mindful of (not) committing fallacies is merely to be aware of them (or their absence), and does not unambiguously imply any effort either way.

I would prefer any of these:

  • mindful not to commit fallacies
  • mindful to avoid fallacies
  • mindful of fallacies
  • mindful of the danger of fallacies
  • Thanks Anton Sherwood. "mindful not to commit" and "to avoid" helps - upvoted! – AIQ Oct 21 at 3:02

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