For instance, the statement "most arguments are simply disagreements over definition" can itself be argued based on the definition of "argument" and perhaps even "definition".

How could I describe this?

  • 1
    As, I believe, Bertrand Russell said, you can't have rules of philosophy that are self-reflexive.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 2:40
  • I've changed the question tags since I think you're requesting words or phrases, rather than supplying a list from which to choose, which is what word-choice is for. Feel free to modify them or change them back as appropriate. You can hover your mouse over each tag and click info on the pop-up to learn more about the tags.
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 14:38
  • Related: look at autological which describes words. (perhaps autological statement or rule) Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 1:32

2 Answers 2


Perhaps self-referential would work?



(especially of a literary or other creative work) making reference to itself, its author or creator, or their other work.
‘self-referential elements in Donne's poems’

  • 1
    Good idea. Perhaps also: a question that itself illustrates the question being asked. Commented May 31, 2017 at 17:51

A nice concise option would be metarule.

a rule governing the content, form, or application of other rules.

This is not a fool-proof option, as "metarule" often refers to a rule that governs the application of other rules.

In the example you provided, you could describe the logic of the rule as circular logic, or circulus in probando

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