Conflicting Conditions

contradictio in adjecto

(also known as: a self-contradiction, self-refuting idea)

Description: When the argument is self-contradictory and cannot possibly be true.

Example #1:

The only thing that is certain is uncertainty.

Explanation: Uncertainty itself cannot be certain by definition.  It is a self-contradiction.

Example #2:

I don’t care what you believe, as long as your beliefs don’t harm others.

Explanation: This is a contradiction.  At first glance, “as long as” appears to be a condition for the assertion, “I don’t care what you believe”, but it’s not; the assertion has to be false in all cases.  The arguer must always care if the person believes something that will harm others or not.

Exception: When the self-contradictory statement is not put forth as an argument, but rather as an ironic statement, perhaps with the intent to convey some kind of deeper truth or meaning, but not necessarily to be taken literally, then this fallacy is not committed.


Cicero: Academic Skepticism | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Questions about this fallacy? Ask our community!

Eat Meat... Or Don't.

Roughly 95% of Americans don’t appear to have an ethical problem with animals being killed for food, yet all of us would have a serious problem with humans being killed for food. What does an animal lack that a human has that justifies killing the animal for food but not the human?

As you start to list properties that the animal lacks to justify eating them, you begin to realize that some humans also lack those properties, yet we don’t eat those humans. Is this logical proof that killing and eating animals for food is immoral? Don’t put away your steak knife just yet.

In Eat Meat… Or Don’t, we examine the moral arguments for and against eating meat with both philosophical and scientific rigor. This book is not about pushing some ideological agenda; it’s ultimately a book about critical thinking.

Get 20% off this book and all Bo's books*. Use the promotion code: websiteusers

* This is for the author's bookstore only. Applies to autographed hardcover, audiobook, and ebook.

Get the Book