Circular reasoning

Lance J. Rips*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Good informal arguments offer justification for their conclusions. They go wrong if the justifications double back, rendering the arguments circular. Circularity, however, is not necessarily a single property of an argument, but may depend on (a) whether the argument repeats an earlier claim, (b) whether the repetition occurs within the same line of justification, and (c) whether the claim is properly grounded in agreed-upon information. The experiments reported here examine whether people take these factors into account in their judgments of whether arguments are circular and whether they are reasonable. The results suggest that direct judgments of circularity depend heavily on repetition and structural role of claims, but only minimally on grounding. Judgments of reasonableness take repetition and grounding into account, but are relatively insensitive to structural role.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-795
Number of pages29
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2002


  • Argumentation
  • Reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


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