Are You Refuting Yourself?

philosophy

Post Author: Bill Pratt

One of the most common mistakes in thinking I have seen in discussions on the blog is the making of self-refuting statements.  According to philosopher J. P. Moreland, a self-refuting statement is a statement which “refers to itself and fails to satisfy its own criteria of rational acceptability or truthfulness.”  An example would be the following:

“No English sentence is longer than three words.”

Obviously this is an English sentence which is longer than three words, so the very statement itself fails to meet its own criteria.  Here is another example that Moreland offers:

“There are no truths.”

The person making this statement obviously thinks that this statement is a truth, so once again the statement fails to meet its own criteria.

Moreland concludes, “They refer to themselves and they falsify themselves. Self-refuting statements are necessarily false; that is, they cannot possibly be true.”  Here are some additional examples of self-refuting statements…

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