Circular Reasoning

Circular Reasoning: A Clever Way to Prove Your Point

Circular reasoning is quite an interesting way of proving a point to another person. However, what is the difference between this type of reasoning and the normal way of reasoning? Is it of any use? Read on to know the answers of these questions along with some simple examples.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Circular reasoning is a form of reasoning in which a person tries to prove a point by using a premise which is not different from the conclusion. In simple words, it involves repetition of words or concepts while validating and argument. However, before we discuss this type of reasoning in detail, let us know how one should ideally go about logical reasoning so that we can easily understand the distinction between the two.

What is the Normal Way of Reasoning?

The normal way of reasoning involves putting forward a hypothesis and then arriving at a conclusion on the basis of premises or absolute facts that either prove the hypothesis to be conclusively true or false. In this process, we think logically and have a valid reason for every conclusion which we draw. So, let us discuss this with the help of some examples.

Imagine that you are solving a geometrical problem. In this problem, you have been asked to prove that two sides of a geometrical figure are equal or congruent. For solving this problem, you will use the geometrical theorems and corollaries which have been taught to you in your class. Using theorems, you will first prove that the first side is equal to the second side. Then, using some more facts, you will eventually prove that the second side is equal to the third side. After this, you can state that the first side is equal to the third side. Thus, reasoning is done step by step by thinking in a rational and scientific manner.

What is Circular Reasoning?

Circular reasoning is not a very valid manner in which an argument can be authenticated every single time. This is primarily because one of the premises is presented as the conclusion as well. For instance,

X is true because of Y
because Y is true because of X.

Here, there's a probability that the argument presented is deductively valid; however, one cannot conclusively bank on the presented conclusion because the proof that the premise is any different from the conclusion is absent. And it is due to this lack of distinction that there is always room for doubt. And since there is nothing else backing the two elements in the argument and both of them state the very same thing, if one doubts the premise, the conclusion is already rendered doubtful and vice versa.

For example, A says,"Mathematics is boring because it is not interesting". In this particular statement, the words 'boring' and 'not interesting' indicate the same thing and there is nothing new conveyed to the readers. Another example can be, "He is a morally bad guy because he is wicked". In this sentence, both 'morally bad' and 'wicked' mean the same thing. These words do not tell anything else about the person in question or in any way says why he's being called 'wicked'.

Understanding the concept of circular learning will hopefully become easy after reading the above explanation with examples.