, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 201–212

“People Who Argue Ad Hominem Are Jerks” and Other Self-Fulfilling Fallacies



A self-fulfilling fallacy (SFF) is a fallacious argument whose conclusion is that the very fallacy employed is an invalid or otherwise illegitimate inferential procedure. This paper discusses three different ways in which SFF’s might serve to justify their conclusions. SFF’s might have probative value as honest and straightforward arguments, they might serve to justify the premise of a meta-argument or, following a point made by Roy Sorensen, they might provide a non-inferential basis for accepting their conclusion. The paper concludes with an assessment of the relative merits of these proposals.


Fallacies Epistemology Self-reference Immodesty Self-effacement Self-reference Sorensen Saccheri 


  1. BonJour, L. 1998. In defense of pure reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Carroll, L. 1894. What the tortoise said to Achilles. Mind 4: 278–280.Google Scholar
  3. Castagnoli, L. 2010. Ancient self-refutation: The logic and history of the self-refutation argument from democritus to augustine. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Fumerton, R. 1995. Meta-epistemology and skepticism. Boston: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  5. Hamblin, C.L. 1975. Saccherian arguments and the self-application of logic. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 53: 157–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Jacquette, D. 1996. The validity paradox in Modal S5. Synthese 109: 47–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Keynes, J. 1921. A treatise on probability. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  8. Lewis, D. 1971. Immodest inductive methods. Philosophy of Science 38: 54–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Nuchelmans, G. 1992. A 17th century debate on the ‘Consequentia Mirabilis’. History and Philosophy of Logic 13: 43–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Parfit, D. 1984. Reasons and persons. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Robinson, R. 1971. Begging the question. Analysis 31: 113–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Sorensen, R. 1991. P, therefore P without circularity. The Journal of Philosophy 88: 245–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Sorensen, R. 1996. Unbeggable questions. Analysis 56: 51–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Walton, D. 1998. Ad hominem arguments. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations