Circular Reasoning Fallacy – Definition & Examples

27.12.23 Fallacies Time to read: 8min

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Fallacies are frequent mistakes in logic that can quietly weaken the rationality of your arguments. Frequently, if one experiences a sense of inconsistency in their arguments, it is likely due to the practice of circular reasoning. Understanding the circular reasoning fallacy is key to effective communication, as it helps us avoid being misled by illogical arguments and enables us to construct stronger, more rational arguments.

Circular reasoning fallacy in a nutshell

Circular reasoning, also known as begging the question, is a logical fallacy in which the conclusion of an argument is assumed in one of the premises. In a nutshell, it’s when you use the thing you’re trying to prove as part of your argument. It’s a faulty form of reasoning because it doesn’t provide any new or valid evidence to support your claim; instead, it just restates the same idea differently. This makes circular reasoning a fallacious and unconvincing form of argumentation.

Definition: Circular reasoning fallacy

The circular reasoning fallacy, also known as “begging the question” or “petitio principii,” is an informal logical fallacy where the conclusion of an argument is assumed in its premises. The error lies in the content of the argument, rather than its form. This informal fallacy creates a loop in reasoning and occurs when the initial statement to be proven is included, either explicitly or implicitly, within the premises, thus creating a circular argument. Instead of offering real evidence, the argument simply restates the conclusion in different terms or assumes the truth of what it’s supposed to prove. This makes the argument logically invalid, as it does not provide an independent reason for accepting the conclusion.


The circular reasoning fallacy and the “chicken and the egg” dilemma, when combined, illustrate a classic example of a leap in logic:

Person A: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Person B: Chickens come from eggs, and eggs are laid by chickens.

Circularity: To have a chicken, you need an egg, but to have an egg, you need a chicken.

This scenario becomes a perfect example of circular reasoning because each part (the chicken and the egg) is used to justify the existence of the other. The reasoning does not move forward and fails to provide a starting point or a logical conclusion.

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How does the circular reasoning fallacy work?

The circular reasoning fallacy works by using its conclusion as its justification, creating a self-referential loop in an invalid argument. The argument starts with an idea or premise (A) and ends with a conclusion (Z), both of them being related to each other, either implicitly or explicitly.

In other words:

  • A is true because of Z
  • Z is true because of A

In other words, the premise and the conclusion depend on each other being true. This means the reason given for a claim is simply a restatement of the claim itself, without any external evidence, proof, or logical support. It fails as a logical argument because it doesn’t actually prove anything; it just assumes the conclusion is true from the start. In the end, the argument of the circular reasoning fallacy will have come full circle, without having proven anything.

What is a circular argument?

A circular argument, also known as circular reasoning or circular logic, is a type of poor reasoning where the argument loops back to its starting point without providing any substantive evidence or proof.

The concept of circular arguments traces back to Aristotle’s “Metaphysics,” written around 350 BCE, where it is described as “making an assumption at the beginning.” Its Latin counterpart, “petitio principii,” often used in formal logic, translates directly from the Greek “petitio” meaning “assumption” and “principii” meaning “from the beginning.”

In a well-structured argument, the conclusion comes from the reasons or evidence given, which are called premises. The evidence supports the conclusion. The premise, as well as the conclusion, are identical.

General structure of circular reasoning

  1. Starting with a claim
  2. Using the conclusion as evidence
  3. Reasserting the conclusion

However, in the circular reasoning fallacy, the main point is used both as a reason and as a conclusion. It’s like saying something is true because it says it’s true. This is not a strong way to argue in your academic writing because a good argument needs real evidence, not just repeating the same point. This fallacy undermines the credibility and effectiveness of the writing.

Note: A circular argument can be a valid argument if both its premise and its conclusion are true. However, it is a fallacious argument as the reasoning for both is identical, and it is not backed up by sufficient evidence.

Examples of the circular reasoning fallacy

The circular reasoning fallacy often appears in various forms in real-life discussions, debates, and even in some forms of advertising or political rhetoric. The following example illustrates the fallacy by suggesting that the news article is trustworthy because it is from a reliable source.


A popular example of the circular reasoning fallacy involves the chicken and the egg, often cited in discussions about logical fallacies, goes like this.

Original statement: The Bible is true because it is the word of God.

  1. Conclusion: The Bible is true.
  2. Premise: It is the word of God.
  3. Circularity: The Bible itself states that it is the word of God.

The argument’s conclusion is that the Bible is true. The supporting reason given for this is that the Bible is the word of God. However, the only evidence provided to support the idea that the bible is the word of God is the Bible’s own assertion. This creates a circular argument where the proof or reasoning to support the claim that the Bible is the word of God, separate from the Bible’s own statements.

Other real-life examples

This is a circular argument because the argument’s premise (the source reports the truth) is the same as its conclusion (it’s trustworthy), without any independent evidence. Below, you’ll find some more examples.


Conclusion: The accused is untrustworthy.

Premise: Because they have been accused of crime.

Circularity: The argument assumes that being accused of a crime inherently makes someone untrustworthy, using the accusation itself as evidence of untrustworthiness.


Conclusion: You need experience to get this job.

Premise: Because only experienced people can do this job.

Circularity: The requirement of experience is justified by the assumption that the job can only be done by those who already have experience, creating a loop that doesn’t allow for entry-level candidates.


Conclusion: I am always right.

Premise: Because I never make mistakes.

Circularity: The belief in one’s infallibility is used to justify the conclusion of always being right, without any external evidence or acknowledgment of potential errors.


Conclusion: Our party’s policies are the best.

Premise: Because we are the best political party.

Circularity: The belief of being the best political party with the best policies is not backed up by sufficient evidence or proof.

Psychology behind the circular reasoning fallacy

People commit the circular reasoning fallacy due to their conviction of their assumptions and assuming them as given. Occasionally, circular reasoning is employed purposefully to conceal the speakers’ lack of comprehension or evidence. The psychology behind circular reasoning is quite intricate and can be understood through several psychological principles and cognitive biases: This fallacy may be committed intentionally as well as unintentionally by individuals because they are convinced of their own assumptions and take them for granted. As a matter of fact, some people use the circular reasoning fallacy to hide their lack of knowledge or proof. Below, you’ll find some other reasons that might lead to circular reasoning:

Lack of evidence/knowledge

Some individuals might not have sufficient knowledge or evidence regarding a specific topic, leading them to unintentionally engage in circular reasoning. They believe their assumptions and take them for granted.

Confirmation bias

People naturally prefer information that confirms their existing beliefs. In circular arguments, they may unintentionally structure arguments to align with these beliefs, rather than seeking objective evidence.


In some cases, circular reasoning can result from a misunderstanding of what constitutes a valid argument or from a failure to communicate the underlying reasoning effectively.

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Example of the circular reasoning fallacy

Conclusion: You should trust me.

Premise: Because I am very trustworthy.

Circularity: This argument is circular because it uses the claim of being trustworthy as the sole reason to trust the person, without providing any independent evidence or reasoning to support the claim of trustworthiness.

Yes. The circular reasoning fallacy is essentially the same as the fallacy known as “begging the question.” Both involve an argument where the conclusion is assumed within the premise, leading to a logical loop where the argument essentially supports itself without providing any evidence or reasoning. Both fallacies take for granted what is supposed to prove, making it logically invalid.

Circular reasoning, also known as the circular reasoning fallacy, is a logical fallacy where the conclusion is a rephrasing of the premise, without logical reasoning or actual evidence. In other words, the reasoning starts and ends at the same point.

The difference between the circular reasoning fallacy and a valid argument lies in the structure and logical soundness of the reasoning.

A valid argument provides logical reasoning and evidence leading from concrete premises to a separate conclusion, whereas circular reasoning’s conclusion is the same as its premise.

In addition to the circular reasoning fallacy, there are many other types of logical fallacies. Here are some common ones:

1. Ad hominem Fallacy

2. Straw Man Fallacy

3. Red Herring Fallacy

4. Slippery Slope Fallacy

5. Sunk Cost Fallacy

6. Appeal To Pity Fallacy

7. Base Rate Fallacy

8. Anecdotal Evidence Fallacy

9. Equivocation Fallacy

10. False Cause Fallacy