Is there any fallacy in the following scenario where a person declines a choice, maintaining that the choice is not hers?

Scenario: A child states that she will clean her room if only she is given $50. Her parents demand that she clean her room, and they do not offer any monetary compensation. The child maintains that she is not choosing to disobey; the parents are making the choice - the child has no say in it.

  • A Hobson’s Choice is an apparent or nominal choice which is not actually a choice at all. Is that what you’re looking for? Oct 26, 2017 at 3:09
  • You might have better luck with this on English.SE . I don't see a question about philosophy even if there's a vague link in the concept of free will.
    – virmaior
    Oct 26, 2017 at 4:18
  • @virmaior: The user is looking for the name of a potential fallacy. It may however be the case, that there is no fallacy and the person simply doesn't like the child getting the upper-hand in the moral dilemma.
    – Marxos
    Oct 26, 2017 at 21:31
  • @TheDoctor if you look at the pre-edit question, it's not entirely clear that this is what the OP was seeking. This is clearly how Nanhee has interpreted the question though ... and if that works for the op...
    – virmaior
    Oct 27, 2017 at 1:00
  • There's a difference between the child saying I won't clean my room unless given $50 and I can't clean my room unless given $50. Statements about the future ("I won't clean my room") don't have a definite truth value. Additionally, what the parents are actually saying is "you will clean your room without monetary compensation" (a compound sentence), and the child is indeed disobeying this order.
    – user935
    Oct 27, 2017 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


As a parent, I was often presented with similar arguments from my kids. I can see at least two fallacies in the scenario, depending on interpretations: equivocation and denying the antecedent.


The argument is based on the ambiguous construal of the content of choice. For the parents, the content of choice is this: "Clean your room or else (some sort of punishment would ensue)!" The child however construes the choice as follows: "I clean my room ( = I get $50: To her, cleaning implies a monetary compensation as she believes that all unvoluntary labors must be compensated) or I do not clean my room (= I exercise my free will)."

Since the child understands the content of her choice in this way, she rightfully complains that she is in dilemma: "Either I clean my room (in this case, her cleaning action lacks free will since her work without the remuneration is forced) or I do not clean my room (in this case, her exercising her free will will be construed as disobedience).

If the parents explain what is the content of the choice for the child, she would realize that she does have a choice after all.

Denying the antecedent

Upon hearing "Clean your room," the child permissibly translates the sentence into a disjunctive form. "Either I don't get $50 or I clean the room." (disjunction introduction). The disjunctive form is equivalent to the following conditional: "If I get $50, then I clean the room." The child did not get $50. Thus the child concludes that she does not clean the room. The child's reasoning however commits the fallacy of denying the antecedent.

  • 1
    You're missing something. The child may see that she is doing something for the parent, so she should get something in return. It is an unspoken shared value, because both parties agree "if you do work for someone, you should something in return". The child merely needs to learn that she got something before the argument started without payment on her part. But even here, there may be further lesson. The situation of having to "clean her room" in order to live is an unfair situation that her parents have created. Viva la revolucion!
    – Marxos
    Oct 26, 2017 at 21:28

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