Tuesday, April 26, 2005

An Example of Circular Argument Structure

Okay, so the presentation of this idea is pretty awful, but I just don't have time to try and make it better....

There's a kind of circular argument you can get when you consider that the truth or falsity of a claim inversely affects the truth or fality of competing claims, and you reason on this basis without having any independent justifications.

For example, here's one to do with AI. The reasoning goes as follows. First, we might think that human intelligence seems to be non-computational, and therefore artificial intelligence can't be right.

Then, on the basis of believing that artificial intelligence can't be right (for the aforementioned reason), we take this to bolster our view that human intelligence is non-computational.

The logical structure of this is belief in A adds strength to belief in B, which then in turn adds strength to belief in A again. That last step makes it a circular argument.

I think that this particular example is actually quite common. It's a fairly easy mistake to make because the logical structure of what is going on is usually hidden away in the particular way the views are being expressed, and because it's easy to forget or not think carefully about the reasons why we hold the original belief.

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