Answer to Question #183493 in Philosophy for Anon

Question #183493

'You could never convince anyone of something they did not believe by giving them a circular argument.'

Deny this idea and explain why it is false.

Expert's answer


A circular argument is a logical fallacy that follows a train of thought whose nature forces the sender of the message to begin the argument with sentiments that would have otherwise been suitably placed had the sender ended with them instead (Fox 2013). A circular argument could be entirely true had the conclusions been true in the first place. However, if the premise constituting a conclusion needed proof or required more evidence, then the argument would fail to persuade. 

Circular reasoning relies on the mentation that the first argument is true because the second argument is true and could be difficult to detect if the train of thought involved is longer. An example of a circular argument is in the statement “God exists because the Bible says so and the Bible is the word of God. Such an argument could be troublesome. 

The role of an argument is to convince someone. According to Fox (2003), an argument has to involve a constellation of propositions aimed at refuting or supporting a given point of view for it to be convincing. This important element is not inherent in a circular argument. The principal role of a circular argument is to convince the engaging party by having them receives a considerable amount of change to accept the argument. This, therefore, dilutes the strength of an argument. Furthermore, the degree of change would be affected by how convinced the contradicting party was before the debate. It is inherent in the instance involving a skeptic and a convert, whereby it would be easier to get the message of religion across with a conversation than it would be with a skeptic when given the same amount of reason. 

Therefore, the only way that a circular argument would effectively convince would be in a situation whereby the recipient of the message or the arguer accepts or believes the conclusion of the argument, falls short of logic on their part, the arguers or negotiators reach an impasse or as explained, the second party believes the message in advance (Fox, 2003). 

When addressing a crowd, the effectiveness of circular arguments fails even further as what is convincing to an individual is likely not to with another. 


Fox, J. (2003) Probability, logic and the cognitive foundations of rational belief. Journal of Applied Logic, 1,197-224.


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