This Begs the Question

In Confederate Treasure, Brackenreid uses the phrase begs the question wrong. Here’s what he says:

Which begs the question, how does a Minister in the Canadian government end up being chucked into Toronto harbour?

Actually, sir, begging the question is a term for a logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed in the premise.

It’s not a question that begs to be asked?


Then why the hell do they call it that?

Murdoch’s response may be a little dense but is is exactly what it is, a statement that uses the argument as part of the argument. Another way of say this is that X is true because of X, where X is the same thing. You might think that a statement like this would be obvious but they are often a lot more subtle, either disguising the fallacy in long twisting sentences or by using synonyms. To answer Brakenreid’s last question, why is it called begging the question, it is from Latin  it came from the latin petitio principii which means “assuming the initial point”. Aristotle came up with this idea around 350 BC and the phrase has been misused ever since. Finally, yes, the title did use it wrong.


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