3 Features of A Self-Refuting Statement

by Sean McDowell

Learning to identify self-refuting statements is one of the most helpful skills I have learned in discovering truth and becoming a more careful thinker. Have you taken the time to think about the nature of a self-refuting statement and how to recognize one?

Consider a common mistake. You might hear someone say, “There are no moral absolutes,” and then hear someone else confidently respond, “Are you absolutely sure?” This is not self-refuting because the initial claim merely denies the existence of moral absolutes (ontology) and the second is a question is about what we can know with certainty (epistemology). Denying the existence of moral absolutes is different than questioning how confidently someone can have knowledge of them.

So, what is a self-refuting claim?

In his new book Scientism and Secularism, philosopher J.P. Moreland describes three features of a self-refuting statement…
 

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3 Features of A Self-Refuting Statement