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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

Registered User Comments

Krista Neckles
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 09:36:19 PM
Hello Sir,

If you do not mind, can you explain the difference between the "Conflicting Conditions" and "Inconsistency" fallacies please?

Thank you

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Bo Bennett, PhD
Thursday, March 01, 2018 - 06:38:00 AM
They are, for all practical purposes, the same. In fact, I will probably combine these in the next version of the book. In general, fallacy names are unimportant; what is important is recognizing that there is a problem (fallacy).

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Krista Neckles
Friday, March 02, 2018 - 10:24:17 PM
@Bo Bennett, PhD: Thank you for your reply sir.

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