Stolen concept

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The fallacy of the stolen concept, also known as the fallacy of the self-negating statement, is the logical fallacy of implicitly affirming what one wants to disprove or, alternatively, implicitly denying what one wants to prove. That is, the conclusion contradicts one of the premises, often because one of the premises contains an internal contradiction. More formally, the fallacy starts with a premise P and somehow reaches the conclusion not-P. The term "stolen concept" refers to a concept that is "stolen" from the context that gives that concept meaning.


  • Communists claim that property is theft, but the concept of theft presupposes a right to own property.
  • Postmodernists claim to know objectively that objective knowledge is impossible.
  • Liberal Christians claim that the Bible, when "rightly" divided and "correctly" interpreted, is the ultimate authority on faith. (Similarly, some cults use that definition to accept the Bible as "an authority" - always subservient, however, to any "further revelation" that the group considers authoritative.) However, for that to work, their "ultimate authority" is the standard they use for choosing which Bible verses to follow and for interpreting them, not the Bible itself.
  • Liberal Christians may also identify as members of a church defined by adherence to a magisterium, even as they reject that magisterium. This is particularly true of cafeteria Catholics.
  • Pro-abortion activists argue that since there are no such things as unalienable rights, there is no right to life, so that there is an unalienable right to abortion.
  • Liberals justify special rights as furthering equality and oppose genuine equality as a special right.
  • Believers in various forms of egalitarianism implicitly argue that in the name of equality, they are entitled to tell everyone else how to live. More generally, equality of outcome requires that people of different abilities or the like be treated unequally.
  • Evolutionists use the argument from poor design to attempt to disprove creationism; however, according to evolutionism, natural selection should have selected out all suboptimal designs.
  • Liberals keep bringing up a subject just to say that that they are not interested in it, which they would not do if they were genuinely not interested in it.
  • The common writing advice "Never use adverbs" is problematic because "never" is an adverb.

See also


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