Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-19, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 23 January, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2019.


A fast-paced novel of conjecture and surprises



core definition

A tautology is a proposition that is true by definition (such as 'all mothers are female') or one in which the same thing is said twice in different words (e.g. 'they followed one after the other in succession').

explanatory context

Tautology can be extended to refer to a whole argument. In which case the outcome of the tautological argument will logically always be true irrespective of the truth or falsity of the propositions. A simple example is 'either all grass is green or it is isn't. A more complex example is represented symbolically by: (p or q) or not-p, where it doesn't matter what combination of true or false are assigned to p and q the outcome will be true.


Tautologies are true because of the nature of the logical operators, independently of the veracity of the propositions made about the real world. This has lead to tautologies as being seen as vacuous, saying nothing, and as irrelevent to developing knowledge about the world.

analytical review

associated issues


related areas

See also




copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2019


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