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"beg the question"
From: mike feeney wrote:
>I always thought the phrase was actually, "The
>question begs the answer." Meaning of course that a
>question is phrased or asked such that it is leading
>you to a given answer.
Not as far as I can tell--
I got lots of hits from Google--here's some info from
Begging the Question.
It doesn't mean what you think. Begging the question - from the Latin
petitio principii - is a logical fallacy; it means assuming your conclusion
in the course of your argument. If you say "Everything in the Bible must be
true, because it's the word of God," you're taking your conclusion for
granted. If you say "The defendant must be guilty because he's a criminal,"
you're doing the same. It's a kind of circular logic. The conclusion may be
true or false, but you can't prove something by assuming it's true.
This is very different from raising the question, though people are
increasingly using the phrase that way. It's sloppy, and should be avoided.
Here, for instance, is a piece from The Times (London), 30 Nov. 2004:
The behaviour of ministers is a matter for prime ministers, who appoint and
dismiss them. But this begs the question of who should find out what has
gone wrong on behalf of a prime minister.
No it doesn't. It raises the question; it prompts the question; perhaps it
forces us to ask the question; maybe this question begs for an answer. But
it doesn't beg the question. [Entry added 21 Jan. 2005.]
---> All of this reminds me of my reply to the recent question as to
looping is repetitive. My assertion was that the nature of looping
the recycling of audio, therefore it is repetitive. No one agreed with me,
and several demurred. Was I begging the question (or answering the
with circular reasoning)?