Circular cause and consequence


 
The question "which came first: the chicken or the egg?" illustrate the circular cause and effect fallacy. The problem is that 1) all chickens hatch from eggs and 2) chicken eggs are laid by chickens. Therefore, the two statements suggest that answer to the question is 1) the egg and 2) the chicken. It is circular. Each causes the other. There are two types of logical errors found in the circular cause and effect fallacy. The first is to claim that the circular cause and effect proves the truth an assumption. The Greek philosopher,  Aristotle (384—322 BC), puzzled over the question of whether there could be a first bird or egg and concluded that both must have always existed. He could not imagine another explanation such as the theory of evolution and therefore the indisputable truth of the first two statements lead him to falsely conclude that the chicken and the egg must have always existed.  The second type logical error is to claim that the circularity is unavoidable and to use it to justify the conclusion. For example, higher paid staff are more productive, and greater productivity pays for higher wages. Therefore, staff should be paid more. The problem with this argument is that the circularity is not guaranteed. Your boss is very unlikely to be convinced because he or she knows that there are many other factors that affect staff productivity such as training, recognition, working environment, etc.

Name of fallacy Circular cause and consequence
Aliases  
Type Inductive Argument, Informal Argument
Description Where the consequence of the phenomenon is claimed to be its root cause. There are legitimate cause and effect feedback loops. The problem is identifying the root cause.
Example The expectation of an economic downturn causes people to spend less, which reduces demand and increases company layoffs. The increasing unemployment rate makes people less confident and less likely to spend which in turn drives the economic downturn.
Form 
Treatment This fallacy is addressed by examining the root cause:
1) Asking which came first?
2) Proposing a machanism for the propsed cause and effect
3) Testing the proposed cause and effect