Tautology (rhetoric)

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In rhetoric, a tautology (from Greek tauto, "the same" and logos, "word/idea") is a series of statements that form an argument, whereby the statements are constructed in such a way that the truth of the proposition is guaranteed or that, by defining a dissimilar or synonymous term in terms of another, the truth of the proposition or explanation cannot be disputed. Consequently, the statement conveys no useful information regardless of its length or complexity making it unfalsifiable. It is a way of formulating a description such that it masquerades as an explanation when the real reason for the phenomena cannot be independently derived. A rhetorical tautology should not be confused with a tautology in propositional logic, which by the precepts of empiricism is not falsifiable.

Rhetorical tautologies state the same thing twice, while appearing to state two or more different things, while logical tautologies state the same thing twice and must do so by logical necessity. The inherent meanings and subsequent conclusions in rhetorical and logical tautologies or logical necessities are very different. Logical tautologies are neither refutable nor verifiable under any condition by axiomatic necessity.

Rhetorical tautologies guarantee the truth of the proposition, where the expectation (premise) was for a testable construct, any conclusion is by the precepts of falsificationism a non sequitur (logic). Circular reasoning differs from tautologies in that the premise is restated as the conclusion in an argument, instead of deriving the conclusion from the premise with arguments, while tautologies state the same thing twice. In other words the conclusion is already contained in the premises or the premises refer to one another, hence at some point a repetition of the premises occurs. If the argument that separates the conclusion from the premise is a logical fallacy such as a rhetorical tautology, then the premise is merely restated as the conclusion and did not derive in a logical fashion from the premise. The form the arguments are allowed to take, either falsifiable or unfalsifiable(logical validities) dictates in what way the conclusion can logically derive from the premise, without merely restating the premise.

All world views contain circularity in terms of the Münchhausen_trilemma or Bootstrapping trilemma. It is included on the List of unsolved problems in philosophy and it is a major concern for many contemporary epistemologists. [1] The trilemma raises the question as whether all circularity is fallacious. Aristotle's "begging the question", "begging the premise" or "requesting the premise" means a conclusion is stated without specifying the premise which is not the same concept as a circular argument. Without knowledge of the premise it is not possible to determine if the conclusion derives logically from the premise. To "raise the question" or to "raise the conclusion" means a specified premise raises a question or a series of questions that will determine in what way any conclusion derives logically from the premise.

In both the phrases "raising the question" and "begging the question" the same term 'question' is used as a dissimilar reference to premise and conclusion respectively. The phrases derive their meaning by reflectivity to each other in the same way that light is understood as the semantic opposite of darkness. Because the same term - 'question' - is used as a dissimilar reference to two dichotomous concepts it leads to them being confused with one another.

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