Noontime Lunch Talks

Join us for lunch and faculty presentations on their work in the all-night reading room of Burke Library.

Humanities Center Director: Thomas Wilson

Russell Marcus

Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Talking in Circles: On Justification and the Logic of Philosophy

Circular reasoning is widely seen as fallacious, sometimes called begging the question or petitio principii.  Some recent research has pointed to circular reasoning as underlying fundamental problems in empirical methods, especially in psychology and social sciences.  Such reasoning is often infelicitous or even useless.

In contrast to the traditional view, circular reasoning is deductively valid.  Moreover, some philosophers (including Descartes) have embraced patterns of reasoning which appear to be circular.  In new work in the philosophy of mathematics, I argue that mathematical epistemology is essentially circular.

In this talk, I focus on a general point concerning the distinction between virtuous and vicious circles and its relation to the demarcation problem in the philosophy of science.

February 6, 2015