Learning How To Form Logical Arguments: Avoiding “Circular Reasoning”

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It can be helpful to learn how to do something by knowing what not to do. For example, becoming more efficient at calculating by preventing yourself from counting with your fingers. You won’t get better right away, but by sticking to following this one principle, you will undoubtedly improve your mental calculation skills, despite the fact that the only strategy consists of staying away from doing something.

The same goes for logical arguments. Knowing what logical fallacies to avoid will naturally make you better at being logical and coherent.

Cactico brings you a series explaining what common logical fallacies people make as well as why and how to avoid them.

What is “Circular Reasoning?”

Also known as “assuming the conclusion”, circular arguements often start with a premise that proves its conclusion, but with the premise still needing verification, thus ending where you first started (going in a circle). However, it is common for circle reasoning to appear valid. For example, saying,” You will die if you do not eat because your body needs to eat” sounds logical, but that is only because we know this to be true using outside knowledge not presented in this statement.

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If we were to present a different statement formed in the same way, like, “Trees have feelings because all living things have feelings”, then it becomes more clear why it can be a problematic way to argue. It might sound true, but there is no proof that ‘all living things have feelings’… If they did, then ofcourse trees would have feelings, too. The problem is that the premise can’t be true unless the conclusion is true, and nothing mentioned in the statement proves either one to be true.

It’s like nothing was said at all.

You will start to notice how common it is for people to use circular arguements, it can be a problem even when they’re true. As shown above, whether or not a circular statement is true depends on knowledge outside the statement made, so it is better to avoid using them altogether unless you have already proven the premise, which simply makes it a regular conclusion. The formula itself is not wrong, it’s only considered circular when both the premise and the conclusion are not proven.

Some Forms That Circle Arguments Can Take:

  • If X is true, then Y is true. If Y is true, then X is true.
  • Because X is false, then Y is false. That means when Y is false, X is false.
  • X = Y when Z is true. Z can’t be false because X = Y.

If you find yourself or someone else making statements in this form, it is wise to re-evaluate the validity of the arguement. Learning to stay away from such arguements will improve your logical thinking exponentially and help prevent yourself from making pointless statements.

We hope you gained something from reading this post. Don’t hesitate to share your opinions in the comment section below!
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