5
   

to beg the question

 
 
fansy
 
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 10:54 pm
Quote:
Your proposal begs the question whether a change is needed at all.

What does "beg the question" mean in the above sentence?
 
oolongteasup
 
  2  
Reply Mon 23 Nov, 2009 11:49 pm
@fansy,
it means the journalist is illiterate
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  0  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 12:08 am
@fansy,
It's kind of like an elephant in the room. Everyone knows it's there but nobody wants to state the obvious. When someone says it begs the question, it means it's an obvious question. So in this case, it seems the writer is asking why bother with change if it isn't needed.
0 Replies
 
fansy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 01:18 am
Quote:
Events were no better elsewhere. Bombings of hotels in Amman, Jordan, begged the question: Why can’t we capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born insurgent leader in Iraq suspected of carrying out the attacks"or Osama bin Laden for that matter? Al-Zarqawi moves beyond the borders of Iraq to become a regional threat while Vice President Dick Cheney, a veteran of multiple draft deferments, battles Sen. John McCain, a former POW, for pushing an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that puts the U.S. government on record opposing torture.

How should we understand "begged the question" in the above context?
Ceili
 
  0  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 01:30 am
@fansy,
It's the same thing, a circular question... With all the military strength, money and intelligence why are we still no closer to getting these guys, we are the atrocities still happening. We know the answer but we don't really have the answer. A question that can and can't be answered. The answer may seem obvious but yet we must ask it.
0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 07:15 am
I don't think anybody has got this right, certainly not the person who wrote the piece quoted by fansy, and none of those who have posted so far.

First of all, the person who wrote the piece has committed an all-too-common error, namely to use "begs the question" when he or she means "raises the question".

To beg the question is to ask someone to accept your conclusions without requiring supporting evidence.

Example of begging the question:

A: Gone With the Wind is the greatest American novel ever written.
B: Why?
A: Because it was made into a movie and everybody knows that great novels are made into movies.

Intrepid
 
  0  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 07:51 am
@contrex,
You make assumptions that you know more about what the author was trying to ask than the author. The author used the word beg and that is the question.

Your assumption that the others are wrong is wrong. Ceili came closest. Begging the question is not, as you say, asking someone to accept the conclusions without requiring supporting evidence.
DrewDad
 
  3  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 07:54 am
@Intrepid,
http://begthequestion.info/

Quote:
What is "Begging the Question?"

"Begging the question" is a form of logical fallacy in which a statement or claim is assumed to be true without evidence other than the statement or claim itself. When one begs the question, the initial assumption of a statement is treated as already proven without any logic to show why the statement is true in the first place.

A simple example would be "I think he is unattractive because he is ugly." The adjective "ugly" does not explain why the subject is "unattractive" -- they virtually amount to the same subjective meaning, and the proof is merely a restatement of the premise. The sentence has begged the question.

What is it Not?

To beg the question does not mean "to raise the question." (e.g. "It begs the question, why is he so dumb?") This is a common error of usage made by those who mistake the word "question" in the phrase to refer to a literal question. Sadly, the error has grown more and more common with time, such that even journalists, advertisers, and major mass media entities have fallen prey to "BTQ Abuse."

While descriptivists and other such laissez-faire linguists are content to allow the misconception to fall into the vernacular, it cannot be denied that logic and philosophy stand to lose an important conceptual label should the meaning of BTQ become diluted to the point that we must constantly distinguish between the traditional usage and the erroneous "modern" usage. This is why we fight.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  3  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 08:52 am

I think this has been fairly confusing up to now, and certainly "begging the question" is much misunderstood and misused nowadays.

Here's what my copy of Fowler has to say about it:

"Begging the question" or petitio principii is the fallacy of founding a conclusion on a basis that as much needs to be proved as the conclusion itself.
ARGUING IN A CIRCLE is a common variety of p.p.. Other examples are that capital punishment is necessary because without it murders would increase, and that democracy must be the best form of government because the majority are always right.

Hope that helps.
0 Replies
 
contrex
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 11:07 am
So, eat it, Intrepid!
Intrepid
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 11:14 am
@contrex,
contrex wrote:

So, eat it, Intrepid!


That begs the question. What does your comment have to do with this thread?
contrex
 
  0  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 12:33 pm
Quote:
That begs the question. What does your comment have to do with this thread?


It doesn't. It raises the question. My comment has this relevance: you told me I was wrong about the phrase "beg the question". In fact you were wrong.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 01:06 pm
@Intrepid,
And what you just did is called "rising to the bait."
0 Replies
 
oolongteasup
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 07:16 pm
@contrex,
Quote:
I don't think anybody has got this right


o i dunno
0 Replies
 
fansy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 09:37 pm
@fansy,
Quote:
Events were no better elsewhere. Bombings of hotels in Amman, Jordan,
Quote:
begged the question:
Why can’t we capture Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born insurgent leader in Iraq suspected of carrying out the attacks"or Osama bin Laden for that matter? Al-Zarqawi moves beyond the borders of Iraq to become a regional threat while Vice President Dick Cheney, a veteran of multiple draft deferments, battles Sen. John McCain, a former POW, for pushing an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that puts the U.S. government on record opposing torture.

I found an snswer from wikipedia, which I quote as follows:
Quote:
Modern usage
More recently, to beg the question has been used as a synonym for to raise the question, or to indicate that the question really ought to be addressed. This usage is commonly followed by a colon[citation needed] and the statement of the question. For example, "This year's budget deficit is half a trillion dollars. This begs the question: how are we ever going to balance the budget?"
Using the term in this way, although common, is considered incorrect by prescriptive grammarians.[9] This usage is the result of confusion over the translation of petitio principii, which literally translates as "assuming the starting point".[10]
Arguments over whether such usage should be considered incorrect are an example of debate over linguistic prescription and description.

Maybe, this explains the use of "begs the question" plus the colon [:] in my quoted text.
People do understand the meaning of certain phrases at their face value, and when many people use them that way, these wrong usages will become established. Maybe here is a case in point.
As far as I am concerned, I prefer to understand the quoted text this way. I am rather puzzled by the so-called "circular" way anyway.
oolongteasup
 
  2  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 09:42 pm
@fansy,
fansy you understand the intention of the writer

so why ask
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Tue 24 Nov, 2009 09:44 pm
@oolongteasup,
because that is what this site is all about...
0 Replies
 
Intrepid
 
  2  
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 06:07 am
@fansy,
Exactly!
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 02:12 pm
@contrex,
Another bit of prescriptive nonsense. Words and phrases hold the meanings that native English speakers give them.

'beg the question' hold two meanings, both have been explained here. There's no reason that it couldn't develop more.

'begs the question' doesn't just 'raise a question', obviously 'beg' does much more.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 25 Nov, 2009 03:19 pm
@contrex,
Clearest explanation I have ever seen.

Just because most people use it incorrectly doesn't make it right.
 

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