The common accusation that I use circular reasoning is actually true. In fact, everyone uses some degree of circular reasoning when defending his ultimate standard (though not everyone realizes this fact). Yet if used properly, this use of circular reasoning is not arbitrary and,
therefore, not fallacious.
Contrary to what you think, circular reasoning is surprisingly a valid argument. The conclusion does follow from the premises. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy only when it is arbitrary, proving nothing beyond what it assumes.
However, not all circular reasoning is fallacious. Certain standards must be assumed. Dr. Jason Lisle (AnswersInGenesis.org) gave this example of a non-arbitrary use of circular reasoning:
1. Without laws of logic, we could not make an argument.
2. We can make an argument.
3. Therefore, there must be laws of logic.(1)
While this argument is circular, it is a non-fallacious use of circular reasoning. Since we couldn’t prove anything apart from the laws of logic, we must presuppose the laws of logic even to prove they exist. In fact, if someone were trying to disprove that laws of logic exist, he’d have to use the laws of logic in his attempt, thereby refuting himself. Therefore, you must
agree there are certain standards that can be proven with circular reasoning.
- Dr. Jason Lisle, “Logical Fallacies: The Fallacy of Begging the Question,” August 17, 2009, http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2009/08/17/logical-fallacies-begging-the-question.