Circular cause and consequence:

Definition Example
When the consequence of the phenomenon is said to be an unavoidable cause of the phenomenon when the truth may be otherwise. My music CD is not popular because people are not listening to it. And people are not listening to it because it is not popular. If they would only listen to it, it would become popular.
Also known as: chicken or the egg problem
  Notes
Note that the fallacy is not in identifying actual causal circularity, but in 1) claiming that the circularity is unavoidable when it is not, or in 2) claiming that the circularity validates the truthfulness of an assumption. It may not be the case that your music CD would become popular even were there some way possible to get people to listen to it. Actual evidence will have to be introduced to show that the circularity is indeed vicious, and that the removal of the circularity would actually result in what the assumption claims. Another thing to note is that this fallacy is about actual circular causation rather than circular logic such as in “The evidence that my god is real is found in the book that my god wrote.”

Case Study One

The nuclear arms race of the 20th century was based in part on the assumption that the other side would actually use their weapons should they ever gain a significant advantage in the race, an assumption that may not have been accurate.


Case Study Two

“If only I had enough money to buy a new computer, I’d be productive, and could then make enough money to afford a new computer!” The truth may be that the temptation of gaming that a new computer would provide may actually make you less productive.


Case Study Three

An angry teacher might become more angry after students behave or perform worse, not understanding that it is his or her own anger that is causing the poor behavior or performance among the students.


Keep in mind that a fallacious argument does not entail an erroneous position.


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