“Whether or not” vs. “whether”
"I was unsure whether to pity him."
"I was unsure whether to pity him or not."
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Is it redundant? Yes. Is it unacceptable in speech or writing? No. But ultimately, the question is if it is redundant, or not, which it is.
Just to be clear, because my redundancy joke might confuse:
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It is redundant, though it might be useful for emphasis or clarity.
I used to write "whether or not" a lot, and I personally make a deliberate effort to remove the "or not"s.
In your example, "I am unsure whether to pity him", it is clear that there are two options: you might pity him, or you might not. Adding "or not" doesn't add any information. But it can be useful when you are trying to build dramatic tension into a sentence. Consider, "I don't like Bob, but he has a right to live, too." Versus, "I don't like Bob, but he may have a right to live ... or not."
AHED defines whether:
Looking at it yet another way:
So the OP's sentence becomes:
It's perfectly clear that not (alternative B) is acceptable, by sense 2 or sense 3 of the dictionary definition.
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