Talk:Circular reasoning

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Revision as of 10:26, 19 September 2008 by Rivalarrival (Talk | contribs)
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Circular Reasoning = Begging the Question?

Isn't Circular Reasoning the same fallacy as begging the question? Do we need two seperate articles?

There's a slight difference, though it may not be significant for our purposes. Question begging or Petitio principii is implied circular reasoning, as opposed to explicit. For example, the statement,Every word of the Bible is true because it was written/inspired by God is question begging - but the question, How do you know that it was written by God? (other questions are possible) is not explicitly stated. The argument becomes circular reasoning when the answer to that question involves an appeal to the Bible, as in - Because the Bible tells us God wrote it. If the answer were different, like, Because God spoke to me and told me that he wrote the Bible. It's not purely circular, though it does still "beg the question" as the core assumptions that God exists and is truthful remain unaddressed...while those are the very things that the original statement is attempting to justify. The distinction is subtle enough that, at a minimum the two articles should reference each other. Sans Deity 10:24, 30 October 2006 (CST)

Circular Science

Presuppositional apologists (primarily from the reformed school of theology) argue that circular reasoning is acceptable and necessary within a world-view and that circular reasoning is only un-acceptable when it presents a self-contradiction. This is demonstrated by showing that the scientific worldview has certain assumptions about the universe and that those assumptions are based on observation but then observation is explained in terms of laws, which are themselves assumptions about the universe. This is, of course, acceptable because it is consistent in and of itself.

However, for this argument to be valid, the observer must consider the assumptions inviolable. Thousands of years ago, scientists assumed the sky, sun, stars, and moon all revolved around the earth, and developed "laws" (more properly called "theories") to explain this. Utilizing a circular thought process, scientists would be forced to incorporate their ideas within these geocentric theories. Utilizing a traditional scientific process, the scientist is permitted to completely reject these assumptions, and develop and test new hypotheses to explain the observations.

Traddles raised this argument:

  • Right, and the argument is valid because the scientist does have assumptions that are inviolable. The law of non-contradiction for example. Or the veracity of the scientific method itself.

This tenet is directly at odds with the presuppositionalist argument and Traddles's subsequent counter argument. The scientific method itself has been revised in the past, and there is nothing to prevent it from being altered again, provided a compelling reason can be made for its alteration.

On another note, why "counter-counter argument"? Why not "Apologists argument" or "Presuppositionalist apologist argument"? Rivalarrival 09:33, 19 September 2008 (CDT)

Agreed, "Presuppositionalist apologist argument" would be better than "counter-counter-argument". Also, the argument is that the "basic tenets of science" are what is pre-supposed by the scientist. Everybody no matter what your world-view must start with an assumption right? So if later on in your conclusions you come back and re-affirm your presupposition how is this a bad thing? You're taking it for granted to begin with. Now, if you're saying "my pre-supposition is correct because this conclusion says it is" then you are using a fallacious argument. But if you say "my pre-supposition is that ____ and it just so happens that it is consistent with the conclusions that come from that pre-supposition" then that should be fine. Traddles 10:42, 19 September 2008 (EST)

I see no difference in your two statements. Perhaps you could expand on this argument a bit. I had never heard this argument before, I do find it rather intriguing. I do think you missed an important caveat:

  • One of the basic tenets of science is that NO assumption can be considered inviolable, including the law of non-contradiction, the scientific method itself, the basic concepts of logic and rationality, or even this recursive sentence.

Of course, one would need a good reason to toss these "assumptions", but there is nothing suggesting that this good reason won't be discovered today.

I think it's an unfounded assumption that one must always start from an assumption. I don't see why one can't start with observing a fact, and moving on to theory, rather than start with theory and move to facts. In base 10, 2+2=4. I don't see a problem with starting from an assumption, but I do have an issue with the idea that conclusions drawn from an argument based on that assumption can then be used to support that assumption in any way. I do take issue with the idea that science is incapable of even identifying an assumption, which seems to be necessary in order to shoe-horn science into the category of circular reasoning. Rivalarrival 10:02, 19 September 2008 (CDT)

Ok, I will put it to you in more general terms... World-view 'W' begins with a basic assumption 'A'. From 'A' proponents of 'W' draw conclusions and build a system of logic/knowledge. This logic/knowledge is not absolute of course because it is based on an assumption. Now, within 'W' a conclusion 'C' is reached. 'C' happens to confirm 'A'. Obviously if proponents of 'W' claimed that this is a true confirmation that 'A' MUST be true then they are using circular reasoning. If however they say "This is consistent with 'W' and every fact that we learn which is consistent with 'W' makes it stronger". Obviously 'A' can never be "proven" 100% but with every fact/conclusion that is found to be consistent with it that beginning assumption becomes more solid.
Now, am I talking about science here or the christian faith? The presuppositional apologists follow a very similar methodology as scientists do.
in response to: "I think it's an unfounded assumption that one must always start from an assumption. I don't see why one can't start with observing a fact, and moving on to theory..." well, in this example you do begin with the assumption that your observations are trustworthy. Traddles 10:42, 19 September 2008 (EST)


"'...I don't see why one can't start with observing a fact, and moving on to theory...' well, in this example you do begin with the assumption that your observations are trustworthy." Point taken, but pointing out that I happened to start with an assumption does not imply that all worldviews must start with assumptions.

Back to the article - A necessary component of circular reasoning is that the conclusion implies the assumption. Your latest edit qualifies your argument with this:

  1. ...because the scientist does not claim that the conclusion validates the assumption, only that it is consistent with it.

It seems to me that your argument now fails to meet the definition of circular reasoning by implying that the conclusion is not used to support the assumption. Rivalarrival 10:26, 19 September 2008 (CDT)

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