Definitions of Circular Reasoning (Begging the Question)

"Circular Reasoning is an attempt to support a statement by simply repeating the statement in different or stronger terms.  In this fallacy, the reason given is nothing more than a restatement of the conclusion that poses as the reason for the conclusion."  {Circular Reasoning by Stephen Hagin}

"Circular Reasoning: This fallacy occurs when you state your claim and then, usually after rewording it, you state it again as your reason. (this fallacy is also commonly called ‘Begging the Question’)"  {Logical Fallacies and Causal Terms from The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing}

Begging the Question occurs when you "take for granted or assume the truth of the very thing being questioned."  {Begging the Question from}

Scientific Method is based on hypothetico-deductive logic in which we "assume the truth of the very thing being questioned" in order to construct if-then predictions (i.e., we say "IF this theory is true, THEN when we do ___ we will see ___") so we can use reality checks (by comparing the predictions of a theory with observations of reality) to test our theory, to help us determine whether "the way we think the world is" matches "the way the world really is."  {The Logic of Scientific Method}   Do you see the important difference — despite a superficial similarity — between scientific logic and circular logic?

Elliott Sober gives a "broader definition of circularity" — "An argument is circular if it couldn't possibly convince someone that the conclusion is true if they didn't believe the conclusion already."  {from Core Questions in Philosophy, 1st Edition, p. 183}

In circular reasoning, "The definition comes first and then the supposed proof is based on that definition.  This is proving something (at the end) by making logical deductions from premises that themselves contain the conclusion.  Looping from the end to the beginning that way is called circular reasoning.  Circular reasoning often sounds right, but it is invalid nonetheless. ... It is often hard to recognize reasoning as circular because the steps between the first and last may be many."  {Logic and Literary Argument by Eric Rabkin}

This website for Whole-Person Education has TWO KINDS OF LINKS:
an ITALICIZED LINK keeps you inside a page, moving you to another part of it, and
 a NON-ITALICIZED LINK opens another page.  Both keep everything inside this window, 
so your browser's BACK-button will always take you back to where you were.

Here are other related pages:

This page, assembled and written by Craig Rusbult, is

Copyright © 2007 by Craig Rusbult
all rights reserved